Georgia sheriff releases video showing a violent struggle before deputy shoots exonerated man

Oct 18, 2023, 12:03 PM

WOODBINE, Ga. (AP) — A Georgia deputy fatally shot a Black man at point-blank range during a traffic stop after the man, who had been wrongfully imprisoned years ago, grabbed the officer by the neck and was forcing his head backward, according to video released by a sheriff Wednesday.

The family of Leonard Cure, 53, viewed the dash and body camera video before Camden County Sheriff Jim Proctor’s office posted it online. Relatives said they suspect Cure resisted being arrested because of psychological trauma from spending 16 years imprisoned in Florida for an armed robbery he didn’t commit.

“I believe there were possibly some issues going on, some mental issues with my brother,” Michael Cure said of his slain brother. “I know him quite well. The officer just triggered him, undoubtedly triggered him. It was excitement met with excitement.”

The sheriff released the video two days after one of his deputies, who is white, pulled over Cure’s pickup truck on suspicion of reckless driving and, after a struggle, fatally shot him on Interstate 95 a few miles north of the Georgia-Florida line. Cure had been visiting his mother in Port St. Lucie, Florida, and was returning to a home he bought recently in metro Atlanta.

The video shows the deputy shouting several times for Cure to get out of his vehicle. Cure exits from the driver’s-side door, but at first refuses a command to put his hands on the back of the truck.

“I ain’t doing (expletive),” he tells the deputy.

Cure complies after the deputy threatens to use a stun gun on him. With his hands on the truck, he questions why he was pulled over.

“You passed me doing 100 miles per hour (160 kph),” the deputy replies.

When Cure ignores commands to put his hands behind his back, the deputy fires his stun gun — shocking Cure with electrified prongs connected to the weapon by wires. The video shows Cure spin around and start flailing his arms, as if trying to break free of the wire.

Cure grabs the deputy as highway traffic speeds past them. Both men can be seen grappling with arms around each others’ necks. Cure gets a hand on the deputy’s lower face and neck and begins forcing his head backward. The deputy strikes Cure in the side with a baton, but Cure maintains his grip.

“Yeah, bitch!” Cure says. Then a single pop can be heard.

Cure slumps to the ground and the deputy can be seen holding his handgun. He shouts at Cure to stay on the ground, then raises his radio.

“Shots fired, suspect down!” the deputy says. “Send help!”

The sheriff has placed the deputy, whose name has not been released, on administrative leave during a review by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, which is customary in Georgia for shootings involving law enforcement officers.

The agency will send its findings to Brunswick Judicial Circuit District Attorney Keith Higgins, who will determine whether to seek charges.

Higgins met with Cure’s family Wednesday after the video was released. But the prosecutor’s spokeswoman, Cheryl Diprizio, said he would not make a final decision until the bureau finishes its investigation.

Studies show Black Americans face a disproportionate risk of being killed by police or wrongfully convicted of crimes compared to white people. Both happened to Cure.

After viewing the video, Cure’s relatives said they still believe shooting him was unnecessary. Civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who is representing the family, blamed the deputy for acting aggressively from the start and never attempting to de-escalate the conflict with Cure.

“He really should be alive,” Michael Cure said. “The officer hit him with his baton and he tased him, twice as a matter of fact. But he did not have to shoot him.”

Cure was wrongfully convicted of armed robbery in 2004 and was sentenced to life in prison in Florida, but authorities reviewing his case in 2020 concluded he didn’t commit the crime. He was released three years ago.

Cure’s mother and brothers said he lived in constant fear of being arrested and incarcerated again. Michael Cure said he’s confident that’s why his brother resisted arrest.

Before watching the video, Cure’s family held a news conference outside the Camden County courthouse. Mary Cure grasped a framed portrait of her slain son and said she knew when officers came to her Florida home Monday that he had been killed, even before they told her.

“I don’t feel, no matter what happened, that he should have been killed,” Mary Cure said.

When Cure was wrongfully imprisoned, 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 robbery. A judge vacated his conviction in 2020.

“He is someone that was failed by the system once and he has again been failed by the system. He’s been twice taken away from his family,” Seth Miller, executive director of the Innocence Project of Florida, said Wednesday.

Miller said that for so many of his clients, including Cure, their biggest fear is that an officer will knock on their door or stop them while driving “without cause, for something they didn’t do, send them back right where they worked so hard to get out of.”

“I can only imagine that must have been what he was thinking during this traffic stop,” Miller said.


Associated Press reporter Kate Brumback in Atlanta contributed to this report.

United States News

Associated Press

Heavy fighting in south Gaza as Israel presses ahead with renewed US military and diplomatic support

RAFAH, Gaza Strip (AP) — Heavy fighting raged overnight and into Sunday in the southern Gaza town of Khan Younis, as Israel pressed ahead with its offensive after the U.S. blocked the latest international efforts to halt the fighting and rushed more munitions to its close ally. Israel has faced rising international outrage and calls […]

1 hour ago

Pauline Golodoff, left, and George Kudrin hold an iPad featuring images of their deceased spouses, ...

Associated Press

Death of last surviving Alaskan taken by Japan during WWII rekindles memories of forgotten battle

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Gregory Golodoff spent most of his years on a quiet Alaska island, living an ordinary life, managing a co-op store, fishing for crab and serving as the village council president. But Golodoff’s recent death at the age of 84 has reopened a chapter of American history and stirred up memories of […]

4 hours ago

Associated Press

3 people killed and 1 wounded in shooting at Atlanta apartment building, police say

ATLANTA (AP) — A shooting in Atlanta killed three people and left one victim wounded Saturday evening, police say. The Atlanta Police Department said officers responded to an address on Peachtree Road NE in the city’s Buckhead district around 6:25 p.m., WANF-TV reported. Police said three victims in their 20s were pronounced dead at the […]

5 hours ago

Heisman Trophy finalists, from left, LSU quarterback Jayden Daniels, Ohio State wide receiver Marvi...

Associated Press

LSU QB Jayden Daniels overcomes being outside CFP race to win Heisman Trophy with prolific season

NEW YORK (AP) — LSU quarterback Jayden Daniels won the Heisman Trophy on Saturday night, becoming the first player since 2016 to win college football’s most prestigious player of the year award as part of a team that did not play for a conference championship. The fifth-year player, who transferred from Arizona State to LSU […]

7 hours ago

Associated Press

Homes damaged, power knocked out as severe weather rakes Tennessee

CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — An apparent tornado tore roofs off homes and knocked out power to thousands in Tennessee on Saturday as a line of severe storms raked the state. Police and firefighters in Clarksville were responding to multiple reports of damage in the northern part of the city, which is north of Nashville near […]

9 hours ago

Associated Press

The NRA has a surprising defender in its free speech case before the Supreme Court: the ACLU

NEW YORK (AP) — In a case of politics making strange bedfellows, the National Rifle Association will be represented by frequent nemesis the American Civil Liberties Union in an appeal before the U.S. Supreme Court. The New York-based civil liberties group confirmed Saturday that it would provide legal representation for the gun-rights group in its […]

10 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Follow @KTAR923...

The best ways to honor our heroes on Veterans Day and give back to the community

Veterans Day is fast approaching and there's no better way to support our veterans than to donate to the Military Assistance Mission.

Follow @KTAR923...

West Hunsaker at Morris Hall supports Make-A-Wish Foundation in Arizona

KTAR's Community Spotlight this month focuses on Morris Hall and its commitment to supporting the Make-A-Wish Foundation in Arizona.



Key dates for Arizona sports fans to look forward to this fall

Fall brings new beginnings in different ways for Arizona’s professional sports teams like the Cardinals and Coyotes.

Georgia sheriff releases video showing a violent struggle before deputy shoots exonerated man