A lawsuit filed Thursday night by civil rights attorneys Benjamin Crump, Natalie Jackson and Steven Hart over the deaths of two Black Cocoa teenagers by a deputy of a Brevard County sheriff goes beyond the lawsuit against two MPs. It’s an indictment against Sheriff Wayne Ivey’s office.
“You will see that the allegations we have are not just against the officers, as the officer comes from a culture that Wayne Ivey provided for his Brevard County officers,” Natalie Jackson told media and supporters, who stood in front of the Moore Justice Center in Viera Friday morning.
Crump, flanked by Co-Counsel Jackson, the families of Sincere Pierce and Angelo “AJ” Crooms, and local activists and community members, called on the US Department of Justice to investigate the sheriff’s office and not review the decision of Attorney Phil Archer BCSO deputy to charge Jafet Santiago-Miranda with the murder of AJ and Pierce.
“The Justice Department will handle the prosecutor’s investigation. We have asked them to investigate the entire Sheriff’s Department policies and also the lack of law enforcement for these police, the deputies of the Sheriff who killed these not only two, but killed Gregory Edwards and so many other unarmed blacks, “Crump said without giving details.
The Sheriff’s Office did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the lawsuit or allegations made at the press conference. The prosecutor declined to comment.
The lawsuit is the latest legal maneuver Crump and his team are undertaking to seek justice for the families of those killed by law enforcement in Brevard and to force a change in the way the police work on the Space Coast.
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The two teenagers were fatally shot on November 13, 2020 when Santiago-Miranda fired 10 bullets into the vehicle as it slowly moved forward and the wheels turned toward the curb. Archer believed the shooting was reasonable and justified and claimed the MP was afraid for his life. The top speed of the car was measured at 12 miles per hour, according to Archers Disposition Letter.
“The Sheriffs’ Department here in Brevard County doesn’t follow national standards. They say it’s fair to shoot moving cars when everyone else in America says that’s stupid, it’s dangerous. So we ask the ( US) Department of Justice to not only investigate the killings, the unjustified killings of AJ and Sincere, but we are also calling on the Department of Justice to investigate the policies of the Sheriff’s Department here in Brevard County as we should make this a priority on life preserve, not take life, “said Crump.
The lawsuit cites numerous police guidelines across Florida, including guidelines from the Volusia County Sheriff next door that officials should absolutely avoid shooting moving vehicles and instead try to get out of the way and not purposely or intentionally interfering with a vehicle and that the vehicle alone should not be viewed as a threat that warrants the use of lethal force.
These guidelines are consistent with the model guidelines of national and international police associations, including the International Association of Police Chiefs.
“We’re appealing to the Justice Department … not just for AJ (and) Sincere, but also for the next AJ and Sincere, because if we don’t do anything now, I expect it will be another hashtag here in Brevard County created, “Crump said to applause and applause from supporters.
In setting out the facts, the lawsuit repeatedly cites Sheriff Ivey for “promoting a culture of recklessness,” citing the “Wheel of Fugitive” program as the embodiment of that culture. The suit cites a recent FLORIDA TODAY investigation that found that more than 60 people were misrepresented on the show within a year.
“The failure of the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office does not end with the use of force. Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey cultivated a culture of carelessness and ruthlessness towards the citizens whom he is intended to protect and prosecute,” the lawsuit said.
The lawsuit, which was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, joins two other lawsuits the Crumps team has against Sheriff Ivey, the district prison’s health care provider, Armor Correctional Health Services, Inc., and the West Melbourne Police Department has filed for death in custody of US Army black combat physician Gregory Lloyd Edwards. These lawsuits seek redress for a disenfranchisement of his constitutional rights, use of force, and the willful indifference and wanton negligence of officials and medical workers in the events that led to his death in December 2018.
The US Department of Justice has the authority to investigate local law enforcement agencies for patterns and practices that violate federal civil rights laws. According to police experts, this can include the placement of an investigator in an agency who conducts interviews and reviews records for months to over a year.
Such investigations can lead to policy changes, indictments of individuals for violations of federal law, and a trial period during which the agency is closely monitored for corrective action being taken.
According to the DOJ, “We can act when we find a pattern or law enforcement practice that systematically violates people’s rights. A violation of a single person or an isolated act is usually not enough to reveal a pattern or practice that violates this violates. ” Laws. ”
However, a single incident can be the starting point for a probe, experts say. Issues the DOJ is addressing include: use of excessive force; unlawful stops, searches, or arrests; and discriminatory policing.
In addition to the action on behalf of the two Cocoa teenagers, Sheriff Ivey and the BCSO could face another lawsuit, Jackson said Friday, as a result of a traffic obstruction for allegedly illegal window tinting on a Cynthia “Cynt” car. Byrd, a cousin of Sincere Pierce, at her grandmother’s house, Cynthia Green.
The Thursday afternoon stop, which Jackson and Crump described as “intimidation” and “harassment”, was carried out by several unmarked BCSO vehicles and MPs wearing tactical vests marked “Sheriff Task Force”. They claimed the shade was too dark but didn’t issue a ticket. Jackson said Friday her team measured the hue independently. “It was legal,” she said, adding, “We’re going to file a complaint against the sheriff’s office, against all the officials involved, and we’re going to try to file a lawsuit.”
Such as the lawsuits over the death of Edwards, the recent lawsuits against Sheriff Ivey and Members of Parliament Santiago-Miranda and Carson Hendren, guilty of “non-interference” and “willful indifference”.
The lawsuit also alleges that Ivey negligently hired and retained Santiago-Miranda. He has a prison sentence for burglary and an alleged history of domestic violence against his estranged wife in the presence of children.
“Ivey was aware of this and based on information and beliefs approved this decision, which enabled Santiago-Miranda to wreak havoc and ultimately murder two young black teenagers under the color of the law,” the lawsuit reads.
Santiago’s conduct was “objectively unreasonable,” the lawsuit states, alleging a violation of AJ and Pierce’s rights under the fourth and fourteenth due process amendments.
Carson Hendren is charged with violating the Constitution for failing to intervene to prevent Santiago-Miranda from using lethal force.
Overall, the suit shows that Hendren and Santiago-Miranda’s actions are completely in line with the guidelines and training provided by the Brevard County’s Sheriff’s Office, and that’s the problem, it said.
The suit accuses BCSO policies “as the driving force behind Santiago-Miranda’s aggressive, violent and unjustified actions”.
It also shows errors in training.
“The same training mistakes explain why Deputy Hendren did nothing to intervene in Santiago-Miranda’s use of lethal force when there was no threat.”
The BCSO “has the policy, pattern, and practice or custom of inadequately re-training sheriff’s deputies on the use of force after they have been taken on administrative leave for violent conduct, as Santiago-Miranda here has no such training had received.”
The “BCSO’s failure to provide adequate training in this regard was a deliberate indifference to the constitutional rights of citizens like AJ Crooms.”
Alessandro Marazzi Sassoon is a watchdog reporter at FLORIDA TODAY. Contact him at 321-355-8144 or [email protected] Twitter: @alemzs