‘The dead can’t fight:’ Vandals target gravesite of Cocoa teen killed in deputy-related shooting, family says

Bullet casings found near grave

Cynthia Green straightens up her son's grave at Riverview Memorial Gardens that was vandalized sometime during the late night or early morning hours. Her son, Sincere Pierce, 18, and his friend, Angelo Crooms, 16, were killed by a Brevard County Sheriff's deputy on Nov. 13, 2020. (Malcolm Denemark, Florida Today)

BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. – The gravesite of 18-year-old Sincere Pierce, one of two Cocoa teens killed when a Brevard sheriff’s deputy shot at them in November 2020, was targeted by vandals Wednesday night, News 6 partner Florida Today reports.

The teen’s aunt Cynthia Byrd-Green, his adoptive mother who raised him from infancy, said she visits the gravesite at Riverview Memorial Gardens in Cocoa daily. She arrived Thursday to find a ceramic vase and Pierce’s portrait shattered.

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She also found bullet casings near the grave, which is decorated with flowers and teddy bears. No other sites appeared to be damaged, she said.

“I had his picture on a vase and they broke it. I just don’t know what to think right now. Why would they do this? The dead can’t fight,” said Green, disturbed and saddened by the find.

“Sometimes I come out here in the morning and sometimes at sunset or at any time of day. This was not like this yesterday.”

The incident comes less than a day after Green and a handful of other protesters, including the mother of the other teen shot and killed, stood across from the State Attorney’s Office around sundown in Viera to raise awareness about the deputy-involved shooting.

AJ Crooms, 16, left, and Sincere Pierce, 18, right. (WKMG 2020)

Both Angelo Crooms, the 16-year-old driver, and Pierce, a passenger, were shot to death Nov. 13, 2020 during an attempted traffic stop in the Cocoa neighborhood where Pierce lived in what deputies thought was a stolen car.

Family members contend the incident stemmed from a case of mistaken identity.

The vandalism discovered Thursday is the second incident to take place at the gravesite.

During the Nov. 28, 2020 interment of Pierce’s remains, a gunshot rang out.

Pierce’s mother, Quasheda Pierce, was wounded in the leg during the burial service, with the commotion sending mourners scattering across the graveyard.

The sheriff’s office conducted an investigation into the incident, later described as an accidental discharge from a gun carried by a 16-year-old attending the service.

Brevard State Attorney Phil Archer, who oversees the 18th Judicial Circuit including Seminole and Brevard counties, is reviewing the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s report about the teens’ fatal shooting.

He will then rule whether 34-year-old Brevard County Sheriff’s Deputy Jefet Santiago-Miranda was justified in shooting into the car as the driver, Crooms, appeared to turn the wheel.

The case has garnered national attention after both teens’ parents pleaded for information about the shootings. No one from the sheriff’s office confirmed there was a shooting until four days afterward.

Last week, lawyers for the teens’ families submitted documents to the State Attorney’s Office to supplement information provided by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

There’s no indication how long Archer’s review will take.

Natalie Jackson, the Orlando-based attorney representing Green, was not surprised the gravesite was targeted.

“We see memorials to victims of police shootings vandalized all the time. It is a culture that we have to break. We have to keep protesting and making our elected officials know that we can’t tolerate this,” Jackson said.

Green and her family members knelt at the gravesite, clearing away the debris Thursday.

She said she won’t bother contacting the sheriff’s office about the vandalism.

“They’re not going to do anything about it...” Green said. “I am so discouraged...I’m so tired. Who would do this? I just feel like there is nothing I can do...,” she said.