A Black man who spent 16 years in prison for a wrongful conviction was fatally shot by a Georgia sheriff's deputy Monday during a traffic stop.
Leonard Allan Cure — identified by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, which is reviewing the shooting — had been driving northbound on Interstate 95 at around 7:30 a.m. when a Camden County deputy pulled him over for driving more than 90 mph.
The 53-year-old Black man got out of the car upon the deputy's request, but he stopped cooperating upon learning he would be arrested for reckless driving, authorities said.
The deputy shot Cure with a taser when he refused to comply, but then Cure assaulted the deputy, the GBI said. The deputy then used a baton and a taser again to try to subdue Cure, but after he continued to resist, the deputy pulled out his gun and shot Cure.
EMTs came to the scene to treat Cure, but he later died.
The Innocence Project of Florida, which represented Cure in his exoneration case, said it was mourning the loss of Cure.
"Lenny was doing well and aspired to attend college for music production and start a career in the music business," Seth Miller, the organization's executive director, said in a statement. "Sadly, his life was tragically cut short today."
Cure was convicted in 2003 for armed robbery of a Walgreens in Broward County, Florida, and sentenced to life in prison due to previous convictions of robbery and other crimes.
Then in December 2020, a judge vacated Cure's conviction and sentence after Broward's conviction review team found conflicting alibis and no solid evidence in the case.
The Innocence Project said Cure was exonerated with help of an ATM receipt that proved proved Cure was miles away from the crime scene at the time of the robbery as well as the finding that a photo array shown to a victim contained multiple photos of Cure, therefore making it an unreliable, suggestive identification process.
Cure had just received an $817,000 compensation check in August for his conviction and imprisonment, which came from a claims bill signed by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in June.
Miller said Cure had held a steady job since his exoneration and was in the process of buying a home with the compensation money when he was killed. And the Associated Press said he had been giving inspirational talks to high school students and was considering college at the time.
Miller told the Associated Press he couldn't comment specifically on Cure's reaction to the traffic stop, but the fear of being reincarcerated lives in many people who are 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," Miller said.
The GBI is now conducting an independent investigation into Cure's death. Then the case file will be given to the Brunswick Judicial Circuit District Attorney's Office for review.
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