Tue. Apr 16th, 2024

The Georgia deputy who fatally shot a black man who had served more than 16 years in prison on a wrongful robbery conviction was previously fired from a police department for excessive use of force during a traffic stop, according to a report.

Camden County sheriff’s deputy Buck Aldridge was identified by News4JAX as the officer who fatally shot Leonard Cure, 53, during a violent struggle after the cop stopped him for speeding Monday.

Distressing footage showed him tasing and shooting Cure, who had been out of prison for three and a half years following his exoneration.

Aldridge was previously fired by the Kingsland Police Department in August 2017 for violating its use-of-force policy during a traffic stop by slamming a woman to the ground, the report said.

“I see a police officer being way too aggressive to start with,” a fellow officer who was at the scene said of Aldridge, according to the outlet, which cited an internal probe.

“He had no business picking her up and throwing her on the ground.”

Deputy Buck Aldridge.

Aldridge, who joined the Kingsland force in 2012 as a peace officer, had reportedly faced other disciplinary issues before being axed.

A performance review in 2013 said he needed improvement in his judgment and decision-making – and a comment stated, “Be calm, cool, collected,” News4JAX reported.

In 2014, he also received a warning for unnecessary force during a traffic stop, according to the outlet.

During five years with the department, he reportedly completed 618 hours of training including de-escalation techniques, use of deadly force, traffic stops, and more.  

The Camden County Sheriff’s Department did not immediately respond to requests for comment early Friday on Aldridge being hired after his previous firing.

Police dash cam video shows Leonard Cure fighting with the deputy.Camden County Sheriffâs Office
The deputy initially used his Taser against Cure but the driver continued fighting the officer.Camden County Sheriffâs Office
The deputy then shot Cure at close range and pointed his gun at him.Camden County Sheriffâs Office

Meanwhile, Cure’s mother said she wants justice for her late son.

“I hate Georgia!” Mary Cure said in Florida, WSB-TV reported. “Sorry, but this is my baby. And I want justice for him.

“I don’t know what happened out there but I can tell you this — there was nothing so bad that he deserved to die,” she added before she saw the police video of the shooting and what led up to it.

Cure said her son had just left Florida after visiting her for the weekend – and that he video-chatted with her as he drove home to the Atlanta area.

“Then he said, ‘I love you and I’ll see you soon.’ That’s the last I heard from him,” she said.

Cure told The Messenger that her son had suffered psychological harm for his years behind bars.

“I’ll say if you spent that much time in prison, it’s going to be hard. I don’t care who you are,” she told the outlet.

Leonard Cure, 53, was shot dead by a Georgia deputy during a traffic stop Monday.AP

Spending so many years in the slammer “for something that you didn’t do, and all the things that happened to him while he was in there, to come back into society and try to pick up and just go on, it is going be very hard to do,” Cure said.

“He had a total disconnect,” she told the outlet.

Cure said her son didn’t want to seek therapy for his psychological issues because he felt there was a stigma associated with it and he didn’t want to be perceived as “weak.”

In the video of the fatal arrest, Leonard was told he was stopped for driving at 100 mph.

The deputy is seen ordering Cure to get out of his vehicle.

“I didn’t do s–t,” Cure replies as the deputy takes out his Taser and points it at him.

Cure poses at the Florida Senate Chamber in Tallahassee, Florida.via REUTERS

Cure asks the deputy what agency he works for and whether there is a warrant out for his arrest. He refuses to comply and says he is not going to jail.

The deputy eventually tases Cure in the back but he goes toward the deputy and the two tussle.

Cure grabs the cop’s face and pushes his head back as he curses, while the officer whacks him with his baton before shooting him, the video shows.

Aldridge, who grabbed medical equipment, is later seen crying while surrounded by fellow officers. Meanwhile, paramedics rendered first aid to the mortally wounded driver.

Civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who is now representing the family, said he also believes Cure’s years in prison for something he didn’t do affected him psychologically.

“When that officer said, ‘I’m going to arrest you and take you to jail,’ he was triggered,” Crump said, WSB-TV reported.

Mary Cure holds a framed photo of her slain son, Leonard Cure.AP

News4JAX showed the footage to criminologist Alex del Carmen, who said Cure’s history of use of force puts the fatal encounter into context.

“The sergeant is thinking probably that the individual suspect is not compliant with his verbal commands and as a result of that he has to use force. I’m not sure that that’s entirely true,” del Carmen told the outlet.

He questioned why the deputy used his Taser when Cure had his back turned to him and raised his hand.

“From what you can see on the video, it doesn’t seem to me that this will be the type of call or the nature of the event that would require for an officer to tase the suspect,” del Carmen said.

 Leonard in an undated family photo.Facebook/Innocence Project of Florida

 “If the officer has in fact, a history, that he has been using force in the past, and he’s been disciplined in the past, to the extent of being fired, then the police department has a very serious problem in their hands right now,” he added.

Cure, who was serving a life sentence after he was convicted in 2003 of an armed robbery of a Walgreens in Broward County, Fla., was exonerated and released in 2020 through the work of the Innocence Project of Florida.

A Broward State Attorney’s Office Conviction Review Unit found that Cure had a solid alibi — in the form of a time-stamped ATM receipt miles away — at the time of the robbery.

Cure had recently purchased a house in Palmetto, Ga., with some of the $817,000 he received from the state of Florida this summer for his wrongful conviction and incarceration.

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