According to a video released by a sheriff on Wednesday, a Black man who had been unfairly imprisoned years earlier seized the Georgia policeman by the neck and was pulling his head backward during a traffic check. The deputy then shot the man dead at point-blank range.
Before Camden County Sheriff Jim Proctor’s office uploaded the dash and body camera footage online, Leonard Cure’s 53-year-old family watched it. According to his relatives, Cure may have resisted being taken into custody due to psychological damage he sustained while serving a 16-year sentence in Florida for an armed robbery he did not conduct.
The footage was made public by the sheriff two days after Cure was shot and killed on Interstate 95, a short distance north of the Georgia-Florida border, by a white deputy who had stopped his pickup truck for suspected reckless driving. Cure was headed back to a house he had recently purchased in the metro Atlanta area after spending time with his mother in Port St. Lucie, Florida.
The officer can be heard repeatedly on the video yelling at Cure to get out of his car. Cure leaves through the driver’s side door, but initially, he disobeys orders to place his hands on the truck’s back.
When the deputy threatens to stun Cure with a stun gun, Cure gives in. His hands still on the truck, and he asks why he was stopped.
“You passed me doing 100 miles per hour (160 kph),” the deputy replies.
The deputy pulls out a stun gun, striking Cure with wire-connected, electric prongs when he disobeys orders to place his hands behind his back. Cure can be seen spinning around and thrashing his arms in the footage, seemingly in an attempt to break free from the wire.
As the deputy gets pulled over by a speeding car, Cure seizes him. It shows the two men fighting, their arms encircling each other’s necks. Cure puts his hand on the deputy’s neck and lower face and starts to pull his head back. Cure holds onto his baton even after the deputy hits him in the side.
The deputy is seen grasping his weapon as Cure falls to the ground. Cure is yelled at by him to remain on the ground, then raises his radio.
Watch the video below:
As is common in Georgia for shootings involving law enforcement officials, the sheriff has placed the deputy—whose name has not been made public—on administrative leave while the Georgia Bureau of Investigation conducts an investigation.
Keith Higgins, the district attorney for the Brunswick Judicial Circuit, will receive the agency’s findings and decide whether to press charges.
Following the release of the video on Wednesday, Higgins met with Cure’s family. However, Cheryl Diprizio, the prosecutor’s spokeswoman, stated that he would hold off on making a decision until the bureau had completed its investigation.
Research indicates that African Americans are more likely than white people to be killed by law enforcement or falsely convicted of crimes. Cure experienced both.
Cure’s family members stated that even after seeing the footage, they still think that shooting him wasn’t necessary. Ben Crump, a civil rights lawyer who is defending the family, accused the deputy of responding violently straight away and never making an effort to defuse the situation with Cure.
Cure was falsely convicted of armed robbery in 2004 and given a life term in prison in Florida; however, a 2020 case review by authorities revealed that Cure was not the perpetrator. His discharge occurred three years prior.
According to Cure’s brothers and mother, he was always afraid of getting arrested and put behind bars. Michael Cure asserted that his brother’s resistance to arrest was due to his confidence.
Cure’s family attended a press conference outside the Camden County courthouse before to viewing the footage. Mary Cure, holding a framed picture of her dead son, claimed that she was aware of his death even before the police informed her on Monday when they arrived at her Florida home.
The Innocence Project of Florida convinced the Broward County prosecutor’s office case review section to look at Cure’s case after he was unfairly imprisoned. This section looked into receipts from ATMs and other proof that showed Cure was miles away from the incident. In 2020, a judge overturned his conviction.
Cure is among the numerous clients Miller claims to have as their greatest fear being that they will be stopped by an officer while driving “without cause, for something they didn’t do, and sent back right where they worked so hard to get out of,” or that an officer will knock on their door.