A black man who had been wrongfully convicted and spent more than 16 years in jail in Florida was shot and killed by a sheriff’s deputy in Georgia on Monday during a traffic stop, according to the police.
The man was named as 53-year-old Leonard Allen Cure by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, which is looking into the killing.
The Innocence Project of Florida represented Cure in his exoneration case. Seth Miller, the group’s executive director, said he was heartbroken to learn of Cure’s death from his family.
“I can only imagine what it’s like to know your son is innocent and watch him be sentenced to life in prison, to be exonerated and … then be told that once he’s been freed, he’s been shot dead,” she added.
According to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, Cure was stopped on Interstate 95 near the Georgia-Florida border by a Camden County officer. He got out of the car at the deputy’s request and initially complied, but turned combative after learning he was being detained, according to a GBI press release.
According to preliminary evidence, the officer stunned Cure with a stun gun after he refused to heed directions, and Cure then began attacking the deputy. According to the GBI, the deputy used the stun gun and a baton to subdue Cure again, then pulled his revolver and shot him as he continued to struggle.
The agency did not specify what caused the deputy to stop Cure’s car.
It is typical for Georgia law enforcement agencies to request that the GBI examine officer-involved shootings. The organization stated that its findings would be presented to the district attorney for the coastal Brunswick Judicial Circuit, which includes Camden County.
Miller could not speak particularly on Cure, but he has defended scores of people who were wrongfully imprisoned and eventually exonerated.
“Even when they’re free, they always struggled with the concern, the fear that they’ll be convicted and incarcerated again for something they didn’t do,” she added.
Cure was convicted of armed robbery of a pharmacy shop in Dania Beach, Florida, in 2003. After the first jury deadlocked, a second jury convicted him. The cure was sentenced to life in jail after being convicted of robbery and other offenses in the past.
Cure was released from jail in 2020 by the Broward State Attorney’s Office’s new Conviction Review Unit. Broward’s conviction review team claimed it discovered “troubling” facts that Cure had good alibis that were previously ignored, as well as no physical evidence or credible witnesses to place him at the scene.
The results were supported by an impartial review panel comprising five local lawyers.
Cure was released in April of that year when his sentence was commuted. A judge overturned his conviction and imprisonment in December 2020.
“I’m looking forward to putting this situation behind me and moving on with my life,” Cure said at the time to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.
Cure was awarded $817,000 in compensation for his conviction and incarceration, as well as educational benefits, by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in June.
Cure, who resided in an Atlanta suburb, received the money in August, according to Miller.
Cure was hailed as clever, witty, and compassionate by Broward State Attorney Harold F. Pryor.
“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,” Pryor said in a statement sent to the Sun Sentinel.
Cure would routinely phone Assistant State Attorney Arielle Demby Berger, the director of the Conviction Review Unit, and encourage her to continue doing “the important work of justice,” according to Pryor.