Body camera footage has shown the moments leading up to the fatal police shooting of a man who was previously released from prison after serving 16 years for a wrongful conviction.
The footage, released by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI), shows 53-year-old Leonard Cure being stopped by a Camden County deputy for speeding, before being tasered, struck with a baton, and then shot.
Cure had only been released from prison in 2020 after his case was taken up by the Innocence Project of Florida, a nonprofit legal organisation that helps exonerate people who have been wrongfully convicted.
The shooting unfolded at around 7.30am local time on Monday morning.
Officials claim that Cure exited his car at the request of the deputy, who has not been publicly identified, and initially complied with the officer until he learned that he would be arrested.
In the newly-released footage, Cure is heard questioning why he was being arrested for allegedly driving “at 100mph”, telling the officer that he should just be given a speeding ticket.
After being told that he is “going to jail” for speeding, which the officer says is a criminal offence in Georgia, Cure raises his left hand to the sky.
At that point, the officer tasers him and the deputy shouts for Cure to put his hands behind his back.
Instead, Cure flails his arms and approaches the deputy before the two tussle. Cure is then struck with a police baton while he grabs the officers face and pushes his head back, saying “yeah b****”.
He is then shot from close range and falls to the floor, with the officer shouting at him not to get up. Police back-up is then called.
Cure was placed into an ambulance at the scene but was later pronunced dead. The bodycam footage shows the deputy crying in the aftermath of the shooting.
On Wednesday, prior to the public release of the footage, Cure’s mother and siblings attended the Georgia Bureau of Investigation’s local office with their attorney, civil rights lawyer Benjamin Crump, to view the video.
“I don’t feel, no matter what happened, that he should have been killed,” Mary Cure said as she grasped a large, framed portrait of her slain son. “That’s the bottom line. His life should not have been taken.”
Cure was wrongfully convicted of armed robbery in 2004 and spent 16 years in a Florida prison before he was released three years ago.
The Innocence Project of Florida persuaded a case review unit of the Broward County prosecutor’s office to take a look at his case.
That unit examined an ATM receipt and other evidence that Cure was miles away from the crime scene at the time of the robbery. A judge vacated his conviction in 2020.
On Wednesday, Seth Miller, executive director of the Innocence of Project of Florida, said many people wrongfully sent to prison live in fear of being arrested and incarcerated again long after they are freed.
Mr Miller said that may have played a role in what happened during Cure’s traffic stop.
“It’s hard for us to understand how he could not be subdued without taking lethal force,” Mr Miller said. “We look forward to seeing the video and making our own judgments then.”
The Independent has reached out to Mr Miller via The Innocence Project for further comment.