BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. – Attorneys representing the families of two teens killed in a Brevard deputy-involved shooting are calling on the Department of Justice in a lawsuit to investigate the shooting and policies at the sheriff’s office.
Civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump and attorney Natalie Jackson announced the lawsuit Friday morning in Cocoa, days after the Brevard and Seminole County State Attorney Phil Archer found the shooting that killed 18-year-old Sincere Pierre and 16-year-old Angelo “AJ” Crooms justified.
“Just because the state attorney says it’s legal, that doesn’t make it right,” Crump said in reference to the 12-page report released by the Brevard and Seminole State Attorney’s Office on Wednesday.
The lawsuit representing the estates of the two teens was filed Thursday evening against Deputies Jafet Santiago-Miranda and Carson Hendren with the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office along with Sheriff Wayne Ivey.
The shooting happened Nov. 13, 2020, with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement being 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.
Crump alleged during the lawsuit announcement that Ivey and the sheriff’s office are not following national standards.
“They’ll say that it’s appropriate to shoot into moving cars when everybody else in America say that’s asinine, it’s dangerous,” he said. “So that’s why we’re asking the Department of Justice to not only investigate the killing, the unjustified killing, of AJ and Sincere, but we’re also requesting that the Department of Justice investigate the sheriff’s department.”
According to the federal lawsuit, they’re seeking a jury trial. Crump said this case needs to be heard by the community.
“The people will have the final say, not [State Attorney] Phil Archer, not Sheriff Ivey, not the sheriff’s department, not the state attorney, but the people of the United States of America will have the final say in whether or not it was justified in killing these two young black teenagers,” Crump said.
Tasha Strachan, Crooms’ mother, reiterated Friday that her son should still be here, questioning the actions of the deputies over a traffic stop.
“I watched that video 1,000 times. I can see nothing in that video that can make Phil Archer come up with that decision that the officer’s justified,” she said.
Jackson, who represents the family of Pierce, said earlier this week that they disagree with the decision to not prosecute Santiago-Miranda for shooting Pierce and Crooms.
“This lawsuit’s not only against the officers, and these cases are never about the officers only. These cases are always about the culture that is bred with these police departments,” Jackson said.
Cynthia Green is Pierce’s adoptive mother and raised him since he was an infant. She said Friday that she can’t keep quiet because she doesn’t have her boy anymore.
“He wasn’t my biological son, but he was mine since he was two days old and he came into my home as my child. When he died, he was my child,” she said tearfully. “And I’m upset. I want justice.”
Quasheda Pierce, the mother of Sincere Pierce, said she won’t give up until justice is served.
“I just want [State Attorney] Phil Archer to know, [Sheriff] Wayne Ivey, I will not stop until I get justice that we deserve. That AJ and Sincere deserve. They deserve justice because they should be here,” she said.
Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey said at the time of the shooting that Santiago-Miranda and Hendren were attempting to conduct a stop on what they believed was a possible stolen car that had just fled from another deputy in the Cocoa area.
Due to the deputies believing they were involved in a felony traffic stop involving a stolen vehicle, they each had their weapons drawn as they approached the vehicle, according to the state attorney’s report. In the dashcam video, both deputies can be heard yelling at the driver to stop several times, but it kept moving.
However, the findings from the state attorney’s office show that the gray Volkswagen Passat Crooms was driving was not stolen and had a different license plate number than the car deputies were actually seeking.
“I am still disgusted that they’re killing our children so fast. I mean so fast. But what makes this so shocking in Brevard County...they killed two Black teenagers for the price of one,” Crump said.
News 6 contacted the state attorney’s office and the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office regarding the lawsuit and DOJ investigation. Spokespersons with both agencies said they have no comment.