Cocoa, FL — A tragedy unfolded in Florida earlier this month as two teens were gunned down in their vehicle after police — reportedly wrongfully accused them of stealing it.
Angelo Crooms, 16, and Sincere Pierce, 18, both of Cocoa, Florida, succumbed to multiple gunshot wounds earlier this month after deputy Jafet Santiago-Miranda opened fire on them, dumping multiple rounds into the vehicle.
According to police, deputies Santiago-Miranda and Carson Hendren began following the car they thought was possibly stolen. According to the family, however, it was not stolen.
Natalie A. Jackson, a lawyer for Mr. Pierce’s great-aunt and legal guardian, Cynthia Green, told the NY Times the car that the teenagers were in belonged to Crooms’s girlfriend and was not stolen.
Nevertheless, the deputies approached the vehicle as Crooms pulled into the driveway of Pierce to pick him up. Surveillance footage from the home shows Pierce get into the vehicle as Green walked her nephew out to aid him if he was harassed by the deputies. Moments later they would both be dead.
For some reason, Crooms did not stop the vehicle when deputies approached, despite repeated calls by Santiago-Miranda. This would be a fatal mistake.
“Stop the vehicle!” Deputy Santiago-Miranda yells at the car.
“Please, don’t shoot! Please, don’t shoot! My baby’s in that car!” Green recalled screaming. Deputy Santiago-Miranda then fired, even though the car with the teenagers inside was turning away from him, Pierce’s great-aunt and legal guardian said.
“My baby left home at 10:31, and at 10:33 he was dead,” Green said. “That man just kept shooting.”
Benjamin Crump, a lawyer for the victims’ families, said on Twitter that the teenagers were “terrified” and trying to drive around the deputies.
“Out of harm’s way, the deputy moved closer to get a better shot,” and fired with the “intent to kill,” and “then kept firing as the car passed by,” Mr. Crump wrote.
Eric Smith, Mr. Crooms’s father, said the family hoped the deputies would be prosecuted, according to the NY Times.
“It’s obvious what we’re looking for — justice,” Smith said. “We’re looking for answers. There’s nothing justifiable about what the Brevard County sheriffs did.”
However, it is unlikely that this will happen as the department is already conducting damage control and has put out a narrative alluding to the notion that the deputy was justified in dumping 7 rounds into the vehicle because it slowly rolled in his general direction.
On Facebook, with the release of the dashcam video, Brevard County Sheriff, Wayne Ivey released the following statement with the department’s “official” version of events.
What we know to date is that on Friday morning two of our Deputies were attempting to conduct a follow-up investigation on what they believed was a possible stolen car that had just recently fled from another Deputy in the Cocoa area.
The vehicle in question was first observed at Clearlake and Dixon, then moments later in the area of Ivy St. in Cocoa at which time the two Deputies observed it making a left hand turn onto Stetson and immediately into the driveway of a nearby residence.
At this point the Deputies exited their vehicles in an attempt to make contact with the occupants, however, as you will see in the attached in-car camera video, the driver of the vehicle backed out of the driveway and turned toward the Deputies and their vehicles that were parked in the roadway.
As you can clearly hear and see on the video recording, Deputy Santiago–Miranda gives repeated verbal commands, 7 to be exact, for the driver of the vehicle to stop the car, however, the driver of the vehicle, 16 year old Angelo Crooms turns and accelerates the vehicle towards Deputy Santiago-Miranda who was then forced to fire his service weapon in an attempt to stop the deadly threat of the car from crashing into him.
Please pay close attention to the video recording, as you can not only hear the repeated verbal commands from the Deputies for the driver of the vehicle to stop, but you can actually see the tires of the vehicle turn sharply as the car accelerates towards Deputy Santiago-Miranda who is now in immediate danger of being struck by the vehicle.
In addition to the video evidence that shows our Deputy in harms way, an occupant from inside the vehicle has provided a thorough statement to FDLE that confirms the occupants of the vehicle heard the verbal commands of the Deputy and that Crooms still turned the vehicle and accelerated.
While there are many other forthcoming details and evidence concerning this tragic incident, such as the recovery of two firearms from the vehicle, the case is currently an active and ongoing investigation being conducted by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement who anticipates that the investigative findings will be presented to the State Attorney’s Office for review within the next 60-90 days.
In closing, I ask that you keep the family of the two young men in your thoughts and prayers and also our Deputies, as an incident of this magnitude impacts everyone, including our entire community!!
As you watch the video below, ask yourself if this deputy — instead taking a shooting stance and dumping rounds into two kids — could have simply stepped out of the way. We think he could have.