Family of rehabilitated black man killed by Georgia sheriff's deputy sues him in federal court – WABE

The family of a black man shot and killed by a deputy during a traffic stop in Georgia in October filed a lawsuit in federal court Tuesday seeking more than $16 million in damages, arguing that the deputy used excessive force and that the sheriff who employed him ignored the officer's violent past.

Leonard Cure, 53, was killed just three years after Florida authorities released him from a 16-year prison sentence for a crime he did not commit.

The civil suit was filed in U.S. District Court four months after Cure was killed in a violent confrontation that began after Camden County Sheriff's Staff Sgt. Buck Aldridge stopped him for speeding on Interstate 95.

“It's a terrible day for citizens to have to monitor the police,” Cure's mother, Mary Cure, said Tuesday at a news conference outside the federal courthouse in the coastal town of Brunswick, about 70 miles south of Savannah.

The lawsuit names Aldridge and Camden County Sheriff Jim Proctor as defendants, claiming they violated Cure's constitutional rights. Aldridge allegedly used excessive force during the Oct. 16 traffic stop, shocking Cure with a Taser before resisting arrest.

And it says that by hiring Aldridge and keeping him in uniform despite previous cases of unlawful use of force, the sheriff “created unnecessary danger and risk of serious injury or death through willful indifference.”

Aldridge's lawyer, Adrienne Browning, declined to comment on Tuesday. She had previously said he was a “good cop” who shot Cure in self-defense.

A spokesman for Proctor, Capt. Larry Bruce, said the sheriff's office does not comment on pending litigation. He said the sheriff has not yet hired an attorney for the civil case.

Dashboard and body camera video of the shooting shows Aldridge shocking Cure with a Taser after he refused to put his hands behind his back to be handcuffed. Cure resisted and had one hand on the deputy's throat when Aldridge shot him at point blank range.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation has been assigned to investigate, which is standard practice in that state for police-involved shootings. Brunswick District Attorney Keith Higgins is still reviewing the GBI's findings and has not yet decided whether to file charges, spokeswoman Cheryl Diprizio said.

“We don't have to wait for the district attorney to move forward,” said Harry Daniels, the civil rights attorney who is suing on behalf of Cure's family.

Aldridge was assigned administrative duties in the sheriff's fleet maintenance department pending a decision by the district attorney's office, Bruce said.

Relatives said Cure likely fought back because of psychological trauma from his incarceration in Florida for an armed robbery he did not commit. Authorities exonerated him and released him in 2020.

Attorneys for Cure's family say Sheriff Proctor should never have hired Aldridge. Aldridge was fired from the neighboring Kingsland Police Department in 2017 after being disciplined for a third time for excessive use of force. Personnel records show the sheriff hired him nine months later.

And video from a June 2022 chase that ended in a crash shows Aldridge punching a prone driver while the deputy pulls him from a wrecked car. The footage shows no disciplinary action against the deputy.

Three experts who reviewed video of the shooting told the Associated Press they believe the shooting was legal because Aldridge appeared to be in danger when he fired. But they also criticized Aldridge for sparking the altercation with his shouting at Cure and said he made no effort to deescalate the confrontation.