Lawyers for Leonard Cure's family are seeking $16 million from the Georgia sheriff

WOODBINE, Ga. (AP) — Lawyers for the family of a Black man fatally shot by a Georgia deputy during a traffic stop in October have formally announced their plans in a letter seeking $16 million in compensation -Demand dollars. sue the sheriff's office.

Civil rights attorneys Ben Crump and Harry Daniels told reporters Tuesday that the sum represents $1 million for each year Leonard Cure was imprisoned for a wrongful conviction in Florida. He was killed by Florida authorities just three years after his release.

“Everything was going well for Leonard, things were going well until he had that encounter with this sheriff's deputy,” Crump said during a news conference with members of Cure's family.

Camden County Staff Sergeant Buck Aldridge killed Cure, 53, in a violent struggle on the shoulder of Interstate 95 after pulling him over for speeding and reckless driving.

Bodycam:Video released after Camden Co. deputy fatally shoots Leonard Cure in Georgia

Dash and bodycam video of the Oct. 16 shooting shows Aldridge shocking Cure with a Taser after he refused to put his hands behind his back to handcuff him. Cure fought back and put a hand on the deputy's throat as Aldridge shot him at point-blank range.

Relatives said Cure likely fought back because he suffered psychological trauma in Florida over an armed robbery he didn't commit. Officials exonerated him and released him in 2020.

Lawyers for Cure's family say Camden County Sheriff Jim Proctor should never have hired Aldridge, who was fired from the neighboring Kingsland Police Department in 2017 after being disciplined for excessive force a third time. The sheriff hired him nine months later.

And in a video from a June 2022 chase that ended in a crash, Aldridge is seen punching a supine driver as the officer pulls him from a wrecked car. The documents indicate that no disciplinary action was taken against the deputy.

“We don’t believe he should have ever been a representative at this point, given his history of violating citizens’ civil rights,” Crump said.

Attorney Harry Daniels (left) walks with Mary Cure, attorney Ben Crump and other members of the Cure family and legal team before a press conference at the Camden County Courthouse in Woodbine, Georgia, on Tuesday, December 5, 2023.  Attorney Crump announced he has filed a notice of intent to sue the Camden County deputy who fatally shot Leonard Cure during a traffic stop in October.

Georgia requires attorneys to formally notify state or local government agencies before filing civil lawsuits against them in state court. The letter, sent Monday by the Cure family's attorneys, gives Camden County 30 days to settle the case out of court.

Cure's mother, Mary Cure, said it was painful to spend the holidays without her son and that she was scared Tuesday as she drove on the highway toward Georgia, where he was shot. But she vowed to seek justice for his death.

“No, the money means nothing to me,” said Mary Cure. “I want my child back.”

Attorney Ben Crump comforts Mary Cure as she speaks about this past Thanksgiving, which would have been her son Leonard's birthday, during a news conference on Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2023, in Woodbine, Georgia.  Leonard Cure was killed by a Camden County deputy during a traffic stop in October.

Capt. Larry Bruce, a sheriff's spokesman, said the department had not received the attorneys' letter as of Tuesday. He declined further comment.

Adrienne Browning, an attorney for Aldridge, previously said he was a “good officer” who shot Cure in self-defense. She did not immediately respond to email messages seeking comment Tuesday.

Aldridge is on administrative leave pending a decision by Brunswick Judicial Circuit District Attorney Keith Higgins on whether to file criminal charges in connection with Cure's death.

Three experts who reviewed video of the shooting told The Associated Press that they believed it was legal because Aldridge appeared to be in danger when he fired. But they also criticized how Aldridge yelled at Cure early in the encounter, saying he made no effort to de-escalate their confrontation.