Man, Wrongfully Imprisoned for 16 Years, Is Fatally Shot During Traffic Stop


[Update: Videos show fatal encounter.]

A man who was wrongfully convicted and spent more than 16 years in prison before being released in 2020 was fatally shot on Monday by a sheriff’s deputy in Georgia during a traffic stop, the authorities said.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation, which is conducting an independent investigation of the shooting in Camden County, identified the man, who was Black, as Leonard Allan Cure, 53.

Mr. Cure was the first person exonerated by the Broward State Attorney’s Office Conviction Review Unit. His case was also represented by the Innocence Project of Florida.

The bureau said in a news release that a Camden County deputy, whose name was not released, initiated a traffic stop early Monday on Interstate 95, not far from the Florida state line. A spokesman for the Camden County sheriff’s office said on Tuesday that Mr. Cure was pulled over for speeding. He was driving at least 90 miles per hour in an area where the speed limit was 70, the sheriff’s office said.

Mr. Cure got out of the car at the deputy’s request and was compliant until he was under arrest.

“After not complying with the deputy’s request, the deputy tased Cure,” the bureau said. “Cure assaulted the deputy.”

The deputy used a Taser a second time and a baton to subdue Mr. Cure, who still did not comply, according to the statement. “The deputy pulled out his gun and shot Cure,” the bureau said. “EMT’s treated Cure, but he later died.”

The deputy has been placed on administrative leave, the sheriff’s office said. It gave no further details about the deputy, including how long he has worked with the office and his record.

The results of the G.B.I. investigation will be turned over to the Brunswick Judicial Circuit district attorney’s office for review. The prosecutor’s office did not reply to a request for comment on Tuesday.

The Innocence Project of Florida said in a statement that Mr. Cure was heading home after visiting his mother in South Florida when he was pulled over.

Mr. Cure was convicted of the armed robbery of a Walgreens in Broward County in 2003 and was sentenced to life in prison because of prior convictions.

In 2020, the Broward State Attorney’s Office Conviction Review Unit asked a judge to release Mr. Cure after the unit found problems with the case, according to The South Florida Sun Sentinel. Those concerns included how a suspect was identified and the fact that an alibi for Mr. Cure was never presented in court.

Mr. Cure was released, and in December 2020, he was exonerated based on findings of “actual innocence,” the Innocence Project of Florida said. Officials had determined that evidence, in the form of an A.T.M. receipt, had proven that Mr. Cure was miles from the crime scene at the time of the robbery.

Investigators examining the case also found that a photo array shown to one of the victims contained multiple photos of Mr. Cure and was as a result unreliable and a suggestive identification procedure, the project said.

“The Leonard we knew was a smart, funny and kind person,” Broward State Attorney Harold F. Pryor said in a statement. “After he was freed and exonerated by our office, he visited prosecutors at our office and participated in training to help our staff do their jobs in the fairest and most thorough way possible.”

In June, Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida approved a claims bill that gave Mr. Cure $817,000 and educational benefits for his wrongful conviction and incarceration, The Sun Sentinel reported.

Mr. Cure received the compensation in August.

“He had been working a job in security, he was hoping to go to college and wanted to work in broadcast radio production,” Mr. Pryor said. “He was buying his first home.”

Christine Hauser contributed reporting.

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