Lawsuit blames ‘culture of recklessness’ in Florida sheriff’s office for fatal shooting of Black teens

BREVARD COUNTY,  Fla. – Civil rights attorney Ben Crump announced a lawsuit Friday after a deputy fatally shot a 16-year-old and 18-year-old in Florida last year.

The lawsuit comes the day after the state attorney’s office announced that the officer who shot and killed the two Black teens, 18-year-old Sincere Pierce and 16-year-old Angelo “A.J.” Crooms, would not face criminal charges. 

Families of the two teens have repeatedly disputed what the sheriff’s and state attorney’s offices have said: A.J., who was driving at the time of the stop, was attempting to run into the deputy. The two teens were fatally shot on Nov. 13, 2020 at a traffic stop, when Brevard County deputy Jafet Santiago-Miranda shot 10 bullets into the vehicle as it moved slowly forward, wheels turned towards the curb.

State Attorney Phil Archer ruled the shooting reasonable and justifiable, claiming the deputy feared for his life. The top speed of the car was recorded at 12 miles per hour, according to Archer’s disposition letter. 

The shooting garnered national attention when Crump, a high-profile civil rights attorney, took on the case. Crump has previously represented the families of George Floyd and Trayvon Martin.

“It is with a heavy heart that we are fighting for the dignity of two teenagers” who were killed “unjustifiably,” Crump said at a Friday news conference. “We’re not going to let you kill them and think that they don’t matter.”

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