Man wrongfully imprisoned for 16 years killed by Georgia deputy


Leonard Allan Cure spent 16 years behind bars for a robbery he didn’t commit before he was exonerated and released less than three years ago, eager to build a life after prison. On Monday, that life was cut short when he was shot and killed by a Georgia sheriff’s deputy during a traffic stop, authorities said.

The Innocence Project of Florida, which represented Cure in his exoneration case and helped him transition back to free society, said in a statement that organization staffers were “devastated” and mourning the loss of Cure, 53, whom they knew as Lenny.

In 2020, Cure became the first person to be exonerated by the Broward County State Attorney’s Office’s Conviction Review Unit in Florida. He’d been doing well since his release, reconnecting with his family, building a life for himself in suburban Atlanta and planning to attend college for music production, the Innocence Project said.

“We will do all we can to support Lenny’s family and all who knew and loved him,” the nonprofit group added.

Cure was killed Monday morning in southeastern Georgia after he was pulled over on Interstate 95 while returning home from visiting his mother in southern Florida, the group said. A Camden County, Ga., sheriff’s deputy stopped Cure for speeding around 7:30 a.m., according to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, which is investigating the shooting.

Cure complied with the deputy’s request to get out of his car and followed commands “until learning that he was under arrest,” according to the GBI, which said the deputy then used his Taser to try to stun Cure.

According to the GBI, Cure assaulted the deputy, who again used his Taser and a baton but said that Cure “still did not comply.”

“The deputy pulled out his gun and shot Cure,” who was treated by EMTs but later died, the GBI said.

The deadly interaction came after Cure was pulled over for driving at least 90 miles per hour in an area where the speed limit was 70, the Camden County Sheriff’s Office told the New York Times. Sheriff’s Capt. Larry Bruce, a public information officer, did not respond to requests for comment from the Los Angeles Times.

Stacy Carson, GBI special agent in charge, declined to answer specific questions, citing the ongoing investigation.

“I can confirm that Mr. Cure was pulled over and placed under arrest for reckless driving and speeding,” Carson said in an email.

The agency will submit its completed investigation to the Brunswick Judicial Circuit district attorney’s office, which includes Camden County, for review.

The deputy, who has not been identified, was placed on administrative duty, the Sheriff’s Office told the New York Times.

Cure had been sentenced to life in prison after he was wrongfully convicted in the armed robbery of a Walgreens in Broward County, Fla., in 2003, according to the Innocence Project. Though the first jury deadlocked on the charges, another convicted Cure, who received the life sentence because he had previous offenses, the South Florida Sun Sentinel reported.

He spent 16 years in prison before he was exonerated in December 2020 after the Innocence Project reinvestigated his case in partnership with the Broward County Conviction Review Unit, which had been established a year earlier to review claims of wrongful conviction.

The Conviction Review Unit found that an ATM receipt proved Cure was miles away from the scene at the time of the robbery, and that an array of photos shown to a victim contained multiple photos of Cure, making it an “unreliable, suggestive identification procedure,” the Innocence Project said in its statement.

“Based on these findings, the state of Florida realized that [Cure] was actually innocent and moved for his release and exoneration,” the organization said.

Broward County State Atty. Harold F. Pryor and his team described Cure as a “smart, funny and kind person” who remained active in criminal justice work and kept in touch with the team after his exoneration.

“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,” the state attorney’s office said in a statement.

The state of Florida apologized to Cure after his release, and in July, Gov. Ron DeSantis approved a claims bill compensating him $817,000 plus educational benefits for his time in prison, the Sun Sentinel reported.

Cure received the money in August, and used it to help purchase a home in Fairburn, Ga., according to the Georgia Innocence Project, which had Cure speak to high school students just over two weeks ago for Wrongful Conviction Day.

“After all that he endured, Leonard deserved to live his life in freedom,” the Georgia Innocence Project said.





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