Leonard Allan Cure spent more than 16 years in prison in Florida for a crime he didn’t commit before he was finally freed three years ago. On Monday, he was killed by a Georgia sheriff during a traffic stop on his way home from visiting his mother, according to a news release from the Georgia Bureau of Investigations (GBI).
A Camden County deputy stopped Cure, 53, on Interstate 95 around 7:30 a.m. Monday, according to the GBI. There was no word on why police pulled Cure over or what prompted the traffic check. Cure exited the vehicle at the deputy’s request and “complied with the officer’s commands until learning that he was under arrest,”according to the GBI.
“After not complying with the deputy’s requests, the deputy tased Cure,” the GBI said. “Cure assaulted the deputy. The deputy used the Taser for a second time and an ASP baton; however, Cure still did not comply. The deputy pulled out his gun and shot Cure.”
“EMTs treated Cure, but he later died,” said the GBI news release.
Cure was exonerated and released from prison in April 2020 after serving more than 16 years for a robbery in Broward County, Florida, in 2003, according to court documents.
The agency said it will conduct an independent investigation into the fatal shooting by the officer. “It is god awful that he would escape that injustice to have his life claimed by more bias,” civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who is representing Cure’s family, said at a news conference on Wednesday. “Just because you’re Black should not be the determining factor whether you get a death sentence for a traffic stop,” he added.
Cure, known to friends as Lenny, was heading home to Fairburn, Georgia, after visiting his mother in Florida when he was stopped by police, according to the Florida Innocence Project, which represented Cure.
“Sadly, his life was cut tragically short,” the project’s executive director, Seth Miller, said.
According to The Innocence Project, Florida officially apologized to Cure and received compensation from the state in August due to his unjust conviction.
“My heart is disconnected, and my soul aches,” his mother, Mary Cure, said during the Wednesday press conference.
“I was uneasy every time he left because I was like, ‘Will he get a traffic stop? Is he going to be a victim of that?'” the mother said. “From the time that he was released, he was never set free,” she continued. “Lived in constant fear…is this going to be the day that they’re gonna lock him up, beat him up, or kill him? I lived with that. That is torture.”
According to a sheriff’s office official, the involved officer has been placed on administrative leave, as reported by NBC News. The spokesman added that the Georgia Bureau of Investigation would decide whether the shooting was justified.