The Florida Department of Law Enforcement has launched an investigation into the police killing of two Black teenagers in Brevard County, and their families are demanding police release all available footage of the shooting and the moments leading up to it.
Angelo Crooms, 16, and Sincere Pierce, 18, were shot and killed by Sheriff’s Office Deputy Jafet Santiago-Miranda on November 13 while in a moving car driven by Crooms, whom the sheriff’s office has alleged was trying to hit Santiago-Miranda.
The sheriff’s office released 56 seconds of dashcam footage last week.
In a Facebook automate your posting, the sheriff’s office said Santiago-Miranda and fellow deputy Carson Hendren were “attempting to conduct a follow-up investigation on what they believed was a possible stolen car.” Natalie Jackson, an attorney representing Pierce’s great-aunt and guardian Cynthia Green, told the New York Times that the car belonged to Crooms’ girlfriend and was not stolen.
In the dashcam footage, the car is seen pulling into a driveway as Santiago-Miranda and Hendren try to pull it over. The car then backs out of the driveway, as Santiago-Miranda, now out of the car, draws his gun and repeatedly asks the driver to “stop the vehicle.”
Warning: the following video is graphic.
Crooms then drives toward Santiago-Miranda but appears to try to swerve away from him, and Santiago-Miranda fires his gun eight times into the car. The sheriff’s department alleges that the video shows Crooms “accelerat[ing] toward” Santiago-Miranda in the video, and that the deputy was “in immediate danger of being struck by the vehicle.”
Crooms and Pierce were pronounced dead at the hospital. A third person in the car was not injured and was released after an interview, according to the New York Times. Police alleged that two firearms were found in the car.
Santiago-Miranda was placed on administrative leave in April after allegedly threatening a Titusville, Florida, police officer who was reportedly having an affair with his wife, Florida Today reported. Titusville police also alleged Santiago-Miranda “held [his wife] against her will causing bodily injury.”
The Crooms and Pierce families have retained civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who also represents the families of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery, among others. In a tweet last week, Crump said the footage “clearly shows AJ Crooms & Sincere Pierce were terrified, trying to drive around cops who approached w/ guns drawn. Out of harm’s way, the deputy moved closer to get a better shot, firing w/ intent to kill, then kept firing as the car passed by.”
“We demand @BrevardSheriff release ALL footage, inc. dashcam footage from the other vehicle and any neighborhood surveillance videos,” Crump said. “We also urge anyone with video evidence, inc. neighbors with surveillance cams, to come forward ASAP.”
Green told the New York Times that she watched her great-nephew’s death, as she was in a nearby car begging Santiago-Miranda not to shoot. “My baby left home at 10:31, and at 10:33 he was dead,” Green told the Times. “That man just kept shooting.”
Over the weekend, Pierce’s family held a fundraiser where they sold food in order to try to cover the costs of a funeral.
Angelo Crooms’ family buried him on Saturday. “It’s obvious what we’re looking for — justice,” Eric Smith, Angelo Crooms’ father, told the Times. “We’re looking for answers. There’s nothing justifiable about what the Brevard County sheriffs did.”