BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. – Now that the state attorney’s office has decided not to file criminal charges against a Brevard County deputy who fatally shot two teens, the family of one of the victims is making plans to file a pair of lawsuits.
Attorney Natalie Jackson, who represents the family of 18-year-old Sincere Pierce, said they disagree with the decision to not prosecute Deputy Jafet Santiago-Miranda for shooting Pierce and 16-year-old Angelo “AJ” Crooms.
Cynthia Green is Pierce’s adoptive mother and raised him since he was an infant.
“I’m going to keep going until I get what I deserve, until my son gets what he deserves, him and A.J.,” Green said.
Her ultimate goal is justice.
“This is not justice this is murder. That’s what it is, it’s murder,” Green said.
Jackson plans to announce the filing of a wrongful death lawsuit against the deputy involved in the shooting and a federal lawsuit against the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office.
“The fact that two boys died because of a mistake from an officer, an alleged mistake of an officer looking for the wrong car is unacceptable. It’s not acceptable because that’s what’s happening, that’s what’s happening in these shooting, is that there’s a loss of life before even an arrest, before a trial,” Jackson said.
She called the shooting “egregious” and a “criminal act” but said she wasn’t surprised the deputy won’t face charges.
Jackson, along with attorney Benjamin Crump, plan to ask the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate the shooting and the timing of the release of the findings.
The shooting happened Nov. 13, 2020, and the Brevard and Seminole State Attorney’s Office released its 12-page report on Wednesday, one day after members of Justice Brevard held a news conference demanding answers in the case.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement was the first to investigate, which is standard in a deputy-involved shooting. That investigation began in November 2020 and the findings were turned over to the state attorney’s office on Feb. 5.
The Brevard County Sheriff’s Office provided few details about the shooting until Nov. 16, 2020, when officials confirmed that two teens had been shot and provided their names.
Days later, the sheriff’s office released dashcam video showing the moments leading up to and including the shooting.
Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey said at the time that 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.
However, the findings from the state attorney’s office show the gray Volkswagen Passat Crooms was driving was not stolen and had a different license plate number than the car deputies were actually seeking.
In the dashcam video, both deputies can be heard yelling at the driver to stop several times, but the car kept moving. Prosecutors said the surviving passenger in the car, 20-year-old Jaquan Kimbrough-Rucker, gave a sworn statement to FDLE that he could hear the deputies’ commands although Kimbrough-Rucker told News 6 partner Florida Today he couldn’t because the music was too loud.
In a digitally enhanced version of the dashcam video, Santiago-Miranda can be seen standing near the front of the car and opening fire as it began accelerating, according to the state attorney.
The state attorney said there was no way for the deputies to know the car was not heading toward Santiago-Miranda. There was no cover the deputy could reach without compromising his safety and the intersection was blocked by the cruiser, the report said. This gave Crooms the only option to drive through a lawn and over a sidewalk to get away and there was no reasonable way for the Santiago-Miranda to know that escape was Crooms’ sole motivation, the state attorney’s report said.
Jackson said Crooms wasn’t driving toward the deputy.
“Our evidence shows that the wheels were turned away from the officer and that the officer was in no danger and no threat of being hit by the car and there was no need to shoot into the car,” she said.
Though the shooting has been deemed justified, Santiago-Miranda remains on personal leave.
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