Leonard Allan Cure, who was exonerated in Florida in 2020 after serving more than 16 years of a wrongful conviction sentence, was shot and killed Monday by a deputy in Camden County, Georgia.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation said in a statement Monday that a Camden County deputy stopped Cure on Interstate 95 about 7:30 a.m. He got out of the car at the deputy’s request.
The statement said Cure complied with the request until he was told he was under arrest. The deputy shocked Cure with a taser and “Cure assaulted the deputy,” the statement said.
“The deputy used the Taser for a second time and an ASP baton; however, Cure still did not comply,” the statement said. “The deputy pulled out his gun and shot Cure. EMT’s treated Cure, but he later died.”
Innocence Project of Florida Executive Director Seth Miller, who worked with Cure on the wrongful conviction case, confirmed to the South Florida Sun Sentinel on Monday evening that his client Cure was the man who was killed.
“We’re devastated by the news of his tragic death, and we don’t have any further comment at this time,” Miller said.
The GBI statement did not provide details about the charges for which Cure was being arrested. The Camden County Sheriff’s Office asked its office to conduct an outside investigation. No deputies were injured.
“At this time, the information in the release is all that we are releasing,” GBI Special Agent in Charge Stacy Carson said by email Monday evening when asked for details about the charges.
The Camden County Sheriff’s Office said in a Facebook post shortly before 5 p.m. Monday that official reports from the GBI will be released after the investigation.
A Camden County Sheriff’s Office employee who answered the office’s phone line Monday evening said the public information officer could not be reached after hours.
Cure, 53, was sentenced to life in prison in 2004, after being convicted of armed robbery with a firearm and aggravated assault with a firearm in Dania Beach on Nov. 10, 2003. A robber fled the store with $1,700.
There were issues with Cure’s case from the very beginning, a review by the Broward State Attorney’s Office Conviction Review Unit and an independent panel of local attorneys found. Cure became the first man to be exonerated by the Broward Conviction Review Unit.
Cure made a petition to CRU head Assistant State Attorney Arielle Demby Berger in 2019, who immediately began examining it, the state attorney’s office said in a 2020 news release.
The CRU’s memo released in December 2020 said the only evidence that connected Cure to the robbery was eyewitness identification. Cure had an alibi that placed him at a bank 3.2 miles away from the Walgreens at the time of the robbery, and his boss said he was at work by 8 a.m. that day. The robber fled the store shortly before 7:30 a.m.
“The issues we find most troublesome are those surrounding how Cure became a suspect in the first place. Seemingly, a man who had no connection to a Walgreens robbery became the main suspect after someone reviewed photos of well-dressed/neat appearing African American males. That was it,” the CRU’s memo said.
Cure was released from prison in April 2020 while the investigation continued, and Broward Circuit Judge John J. Murphy III signed an order exonerating him later that year.
“The Leonard we knew was a smart, funny and kind person,” Broward State Attorney Harold F. Pryor said in a statement Monday evening. “After he was freed and exonerated by our office, he visited prosecutors at our office and participated in training to help our staff do their jobs in the fairest and most thorough way possible. He would frequently call to check in on Assistant State Attorney Arielle Demby Berger, the head of the Conviction Review Unit, and offer our team encouragement to continue to do the important work of justice.”
Gov. Ron DeSantis approved a claims bill earlier this year awarding Cure with $817,000 and educational benefits after his exoneration. Cure received his check in early August, Miller said.
“Leonard was so excited that the Florida Legislature and Gov. Ron DeSantis had recently approved his claims bill. He had been working a job in security, he was hoping to go to college and wanted to work in broadcast radio production, he was buying his first home. We send our sincerest condolences to his family and all who knew him,” Pryor said.
Florida state Rep. Michael Gottlieb, who sponsored the claims bill, said Monday in a statement to the Sun Sentinel: “I met Mr. Cure a few times. I always found him to be a nice, quiet, if not shy and humble, person. He truly felt blessed to be where he was in life and was looking forward to getting an education and putting the false accusations of criminality behind him.”
“It’s hard to imagine that the person that I met resisted arrest but I don’t know (what) the facts are and will wait until further investigation to make any comment about what happened.”
The Broward state attorney’s office unit reviewed the evidence presented at Cure’s trial and the 2003 case found he was most likely innocent of the alleged crime, the state attorney’s office said in December 2020.
The Georgia Innocence Project shared photos of Cure talking to students at Jonesboro High School in Clayton County, Georgia, for “Wrongful Conviction Day” a few weeks ago on Facebook.
After the investigation, the GBI will forward its findings to the Brunswick Judicial Circuit district attorney’s office.
(Information from the South Florida Sun Sentinel archives were included in this report.)
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