BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. – Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey says one of his deputies was “forced to fire” on a car in a Cocoa neighborhood, fatally shooting a 16-year-old and 18-year-old last week.
On Nov. 13 gunfire erupted in a Cocoa neighborhood around 10:30 a.m. The sheriff’s office didn’t confirm the deaths of 18-year-old Sincere Pierce and 16-year-old Angelo “AJ” Crooms until Monday. The sheriff’s office declined to identify the deputies involved and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement also declined, saying that would need to come from the sheriff’s office.
On Tuesday, Ivey identified the deputies involved and released some dashcam video showing the moments leading up to and including the shooting.
WATCH THE DASHCAM VIDEO BELOW, VIDEO IS GRAPHIC
Ivey said Deputy Jafet Santiago-Miranda and Deputy Carson Hendren were attempting to conduct a stop for an investigation on what they believed was a possible stolen car that had just fled from another deputy in the Cocoa area.
Investigators said the vehicle was first observed at Clearlake Road and Dixon Boulevard and moments later in the area of Ivy Street.
Ivey said the deputies saw the vehicle make a left onto Stetson and into a driveway of a nearby residence.
The video shows the deputies exit their vehicles and the car begins to back out of the driveway. The deputies then tell the occupants of the car to “stop the vehicle" or “stop” at least seven times, according to the video.
Ivey said Crooms was driving and he accelerated the vehicle toward Deputy Santiago-Miranda.
The sheriff said the deputy was “forced to fire his service weapon in an attempt to stop the deadly threat of the car from crashing into him.”
Ivey said Santiago-Miranda was in immediate danger of being hit by the vehicle.
According to Ivey, a third person inside the vehicle told the Florida Department of Law Enforcement they heard the verbal commands from inside the car and Crooms still accelerated.
Ivey did not mention if the third person in the vehicle is under any kind of investigation.
Crooms and Pierce, both of Cocoa, were taken to the hospital where they were pronounced dead. Video from the scene shows the car was covered in bullet holes.
According to the sheriff, investigators found two guns in the vehicle.
“In closing, I ask that you keep the family of the two young men in your thoughts and prayers and also our Deputies, as an incident of this magnitude impacts everyone, including our entire community,” Ivey said in a Facebook post.
Both deputies are on paid administrative leave during this investigation. According to the Ivey, Santiago-Miranda has been employed with the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office since February 2017, Hendren has been employed with the sheriff’s office since June 2018.
The shooting occurred in Cocoa police jurisdiction. The department requested the Florida Department of Law Enforcement handle the investigation into the deputy-involved shooting which is standard protocol when a law enforcement officer uses deadly force.
The FDLE investigation is ongoing. When it’s complete its findings will be turned over to the state attorney’s office to determine if charges are warranted.
In a news release, the Office of the State Attorney of the 18th Judicial Circuit, which oversees cases in Brevard County, addressed inquiries on the case while also offering condolences to the families of the victims.
“The role of the State Attorney in this investigation and in conducting our review is to determine whether a criminal violation of Florida law has occurred, whether any person may be held criminally responsible, and whether such criminal responsibility can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law. Our commitment to justice is the fundamental and guiding principle in every such decision,” a spokesperson with the office wrote. Read the full statement here.
Meantime, the families of the two teens have secured notable civil rights attorney Ben Crump to represent them.
In a statement after some of the dash camera video was released Crump said he is asking for the sheriff’s office to release all footage of the incident.
“It is painfully troubling to us that this teen driver and the teen backseat passenger were terrified and drove around deputies who approached the vehicle with guns drawn. Believe your own eyes,” Crump said in a statement. “The video shows the deputy was still shooting as the car cleared him and posed no threat.”
In addition to demanding the sheriff’s office release all recordings, the attorney is asking for witnesses to come forward with any video.
“We demand that BCSO release all footage in the case, including the dashcam footage from the other vehicle, and any neighborhood surveillance videos,” Crump said. “We urge anyone with additional video evidence, including neighbors with home surveillance cams, to come forward so that we can have a clearer picture of the facts in this case.”
As the families wait for the investigation to take its course, community members are taking action.
“When I saw the video I said to myself, here we go again because these kinds of occurrences happen over and over and over," Reverend Johnnie Dennis said.
Dennis is a community member who is organizing a rally at 4 p.m. in Cocoa on Wednesday.
“They did not display lights to indicate that they were pulling them over they just pulled up behind them with guns drawn,” Dennis said.