Leonard Cure's mother, Mary Cure, speaks during a news conference Tuesday, Feb. 27. | News4JaxLeonard Cure's mother, Mary Cure, speaks during a news conference Tuesday, Feb. 27. | News4Jax
Leonard Cure's mother, Mary Cure, speaks during a news conference Tuesday, Feb. 27. | News4Jax

Family sues Camden sheriff and sergeant over son’s death

Published on February 27, 2024 at 4:21 pm

The family of a Georgia man who was stunned with a Taser then shot and killed during a traffic stop has filed a federal lawsuit against the Camden County sheriff and the sergeant who shot the 53-year-old man.

The family of Leonard Cure sued Sheriff Jim Proctor and Sgt. Buck Aldridge as the Georgia Bureau of Investigation continues to investigate Cure’s shooting Oct. 16 in Kingsland, Georgia. They said the sergeant “accosted” the man and the culture of Proctor’s department “let him do it.”

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Standing at the federal courthouse in Brunswick, civil rights attorney Harry Daniels said Aldridge is “not just a bad apple,” but comes from “a bad orchard.” The lawsuit claims a violation of Cure’s constitutional rights and assault and battery.

“This should never have happened because Buck Aldridge has a history of violence, a propensity for violence and unlawful use of force while in uniform,” Daniels said. “He was fired from the Kingsland Police Department for unlawful use of force against a woman. Then he was hired by Camden County Sheriff’s Office. They knew of his propensity for violence. They knew it.”

A visibly angry Mary Cure said: “It’s a terrible day when the citizens have to police the police. That’s a terrible day because they should take their job seriously, and when they want to use excessive force, you have other parts of the body you can shoot. You don’t have to always kill somebody.” 

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The Sheriff’s Office has not responded to two Jacksonville Today requests for comment or updates on Aldridge’s current job status. News4Jax, a Jacksonville Today news partner, reported that he remains on paid leave.

Cure had been wrongfully convicted in 2003 of armed robbery in Broward County and sentenced to state prison. The Innocence Project of Florida helped exonerate him in 2020. Cure planned to pursue a college degree and frequently spoke at colleges about his experience of being wrongfully convicted. He was heading home from his mother’s house when he was stopped.

Civil rights attorney Harry Daniels, center, announces the filing of a federal lawsuit against the sergeant who shot and killed Leonard Cure last year during a traffic stop in Kingsland, Georgia. The suit also names Sheriff Jim Proctor as a defendant. | News4Jax

Proctor released bodycam and police car video of the October encounter, which occurred about 7:30 a.m. just north of Exit 7 on Interstate 95 in Kingsland. The videos showed Cure speeding by at more than 100 mph and driving recklessly, Proctor said.

Aldridge’s police car video shows the sergeant, his emergency lights flashing, following the Ram pickup after it had passed him. 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 truck, the driver says he will not. Aldridge reaches for Cure’s right arm, and he pulls away.

The sergeant tells him to step to the rear of the Ram. Aldridge then pulls out his Taser and warns Cure, who puts his hands up and walks to the back of the truck. He puts his hands on the back of his truck, then the sergeant tells him to put his hands behind his back or “you are getting tased.” before pointing the Taser at him.]

When Cure asks why he is getting tased, Aldridge said it is because he is under arrest for speeding and reckless driving, adding that the Ram passed him “doing 100 mph,” the videos show.

Aldridge tells Cure that those are criminal offenses and “you are going to jail.” The buzz of the Taser is heard on the police car video as the prongs connect and Cure stiffens, then spins as they pull out. He moves toward the sergeant and they begin fighting toward the front of the cruiser, the video shows. Aldridge puts the Taser to Cure’s chest and fires again.

Leonard Cure places his hands on the back of his truck as Sgt. Buck Aldridge prepares to fire his Taser during a traffic stop Oct. 16, 2023, in Camden County, Georgia. | Camden County Sheriff’s Office

Cure grabs Aldridge’s neck. The video shows the sergeant putting his right arm around the man’s neck as they bang into the truck. Cure shoves Aldridge’s face. The sergeant pulls out his baton and hits Cure, who continues pushing the sergeant’s head back and down. Then the sergeant pulls his gun and a muffled shot is heard. Cure falls, with the sergeant on top of him, then standing.

Aldridge tells Cure to “stay down,” then radios for help as the man is seen writhing on the ground on both videos.

During Tuesday’s news conference, Daniels referred to the police car video as he disputed the claim that Cure was driving recklessly. He said Cure immediately activated his turn signal to indicate he was moving over.

“Where’s the reckless driving at? Where’s the justification to get out of the car and say, ‘You are under arrest,'” Daniels said. “The reason why Aldridge got out of the car, and ready to inflict harm, is because his sheriff allowed it to happen. … What it shows is a culture, an environment where it is allowed, where Buck Aldridge can stop a person on a simple citation and demand them, tase them, and ultimately shoot and kill them.”

Timothy Bessent Sr., head of the NAACP Camden County Branch, referred to other incidents involving Sheriff’s Office staff.

“This is systemic in Camden County,” Bessent said. “We are calling for the citizens of Camden County to take a deep look at this current sheriff and this administration and ask how much longer are we going to allow these things to happen.”

Sgt. Buck Aldridge. | Camden County Sheriff’s Office

Records from the Georgia Peace Officer Standards & Training Council show that Aldridge joined the Sheriff’s Office in 2018 after five years at the Kingsland Police Department, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution said. Kingsland police fired Aldridge 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 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.

Daniels also pointed out that the Sheriff’s Office has been the subject of multiple lawsuits alleging excessive force, including a case in 2022 when 41-year-old Jarrett Hobbs was beaten in the Camden County Detention Center.

Lead image: Leonard Cure’s mother, Mary Cure, speaks during a news conference Tuesday, Feb. 27. | News4Jax

author image Reporter, WJCT News 89.9 email Dan Scanlan is a veteran journalist with almost 40 years of experience in radio, television, and print reporting. He has worked at various stations in the Northeast and Jacksonville. Prior to joining the WJCT News team, Dan spent 34 years at The Florida Times-Union as a police and current affairs reporter.

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