Graphic police video is raising concerns about a police shooting that killed a man this week after a traffic stop in Camden County, Georgia.
A sheriff’s sergeant shot Leonard Allen Cure, 53, three years after Cure had been released from a 16-year prison term for a wrongful conviction.
Sgt. Buck Aldridge stopped Cure for speeding Monday on Interstate 95 in Kingland and shot him to death after a scuffle. Cure’s family disputes whether the stop and the shooting were justified.
Sheriff Jim Proctor released bodycam and police car video on the department’s Facebook page on Wednesday.
The Facebook statement says the video shows Cure speeding by at more than 100 mph and driving recklessly. The video also reveals a confrontation between Cure and Aldridge and the sergeant’s use of force, the statement says.
After Cure’s family and attorneys watched the video Wednesday, the dead man’s brother said it looks as though Aldridge acted aggressively and made no attempt to deescalate the situation.
“In all sincerity, I wish he had not been speeding, if he were speeding,” Michael Cure told News4Jax, a Jacksonville Today news partner. “Because again, there was no radar, the officer was driving, and my brother passed him and he immediately got behind him. But they were unable to tell us how he gauged the speed. That’s still a bit ambiguous at this point.”
Before the video was released, attorney Benjamin Crump, representing the Cure family, said they “absolutely do not believe if he was a white citizen, he would have been killed for a traffic stop.” Aldridge is white; Cure was Black.
Cure’s mother, Mary Cure, said she was truly heartbroken.
“I was uneasy every time he left because I was like, would he get a traffic stop, is he going to be a victim of that?” she told News4Jax. “Because from the time that he was released (from prison), he was never set free. I lived in constant fear every time the phone rang and he wasn’t home, even if he was at work; is this going to be the day that they’re going to lock him up, beat him up, or kill him?”
The Sheriff’s Office, along with the district attorney and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, agreed to release the videos two days after the traffic stop, which occurred about 7:30 a.m. just north of Exit 7.
The police car video shows a silver Ram pickup truck speed past in the left lane, before the sergeant follows with his emergency lights flashing. The Ram moves back and forth between lanes, then pulls over after a short pursuit.
The sergeant is heard yelling “Get out, get out!” to the Ram driver. When told to put his hands on the back of the truck, the driver says, “I ain’t doing s—.” The deputy reaches for the man’s right arm, and he pulls away, demanding to know who has pulled him over. He is told “staff sergeant for the sheriff’s office.”
The driver identifies himself, and the sergeant tells him that “I don’t care — step to the rear of the vehicle.” The sergeant pulls out his Taser and warns the driver, who puts his hands up and walks to the back of the truck.
The driver slowly puts one hand, then the other on the back of his truck as the sergeant calls for backup.
“Put your hands behind your back or you are getting tased,” the sergeant then yells, pointing the Taser at the driver’s back.
The driver asks why he is getting tased.
“Because you are under arrest for speeding and reckless driving,” the sergeant responds.
Cure says, “Nobody was hurt; how was I speeding,” and the sergeant says Cure passed by “doing 100 mph,” the videos show.
“OK, so that’s a speeding ticket, right?” Cure says. Aldridge tells him that speeding tickets in Georgia are criminal offenses.
“Hands behind your back — you are going to jail,” the sergeant says as the driver points to the sky with his left hand.
The buzz of the Taser is heard as the prongs connect and the driver stiffens, but stays leaning against his Ram. Then the driver spins, whips the Taser prongs off and moves toward the sergeant. They begin fighting, locked together, spinning toward the front of the cruiser as they grapple each other.
The sergeant puts the Taser to Cure’s chest and fires again. Cure grabs his neck, then the sergeant has his right arm around the driver’s neck as they bang into the truck.
The driver shoves the sergeant’s face as he pulls out his baton and starts hitting Cure, the videos show. The driver continues pushing the sergeant’s head down. The deputy’s back arches as the driver says “Yeah b—-; yeah b—-” and keeps pushing, the videos show.
At this point during the scuffle, the sergeant pulls his gun and a muffled shot is heard. The driver falls to the road, with the sergeant on top of him, then standing.
“Stay down, stay down,” the sergeant says as he reaches down to retrieve his radio, which had fallen in the scuffle. He radios “shots fired” as Cure is seen writhing on the ground on both videos. Cure’s head pops up over the hood of the cruiser as he continues writhing, and the sergeant yells again for him to “stay down — do not get up!”
“Shots fired. Suspect down. Send me help!” the sergeant radios again.
A Brinks truck pulls up on the grass, and its driver comes to the deputy’s aid with his gun drawn as well. Six minutes into the videos, other units arrive as the driver is handcuffed on the ground.
More deputies and a trooper arrive and check the truck, then tend to Cure as others check the exhausted sergeant as he leans on his car again.
“He knocked my classes off me,” the sergeant says. “I can’t see. I can’t find my glasses.”
Eight minutes into the car camera video, a deputy gives CPR, then more deputies help as paramedics arrive.
Cure died from the gunshot wound. Sheriff Proctor has passed the investigation over to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.
The Innocence Project of Florida wrote that Cure was a great person who had already lost 16 years of his life to wrongful incarceration.
“And now this,” its Facebook statement reads. “He and his family deserved better. Lenny’s life mattered. We are completely devastated.”
That group had helped Cure get exonerated in 2020, 16 years after he was wrongfully convicted in 2003 of armed robbery in Broward County and sentenced to state prison. Cure received compensation from the state in August and was buying a home in Atlanta and had a steady job, Executive Director Seth Miller said in a statement.
According to records from the Georgia Peace Officer Standards & Training Council, Aldridge joined the department in 2018 after five years at the Kingsland Police Department, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution said.
Kingsland police fired him after he violated policies on the use of necessary and appropriate force, the records show. The firing stemmed from an incident in which Aldridge tried to handcuff a woman without any verbal warning as he awaited backup, then pushed her to the ground, records show. Other officers involved in the incident stated that he was too aggressive with the woman, the records show.