Lawyers for the family of a black man killed by a Georgia lawmaker are seeking $16 million

Lawyers for the family of a Black man who was fatally shot by a Georgia deputy during a traffic stop in October have formally announced their plans to sue the sheriff's office in a letter demanding $16 million in compensation.

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.

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 of psychological trauma he suffered 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 deputy 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.

Georgia requires attorneys to provide formal notice to state or local government agencies before filing civil lawsuits against them in state court. The letter, which the Cure family's attorneys said they sent Monday, 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 into 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 would love to have my child back.”

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

An attorney for Aldridge, Adrienne Browning, declined to comment Tuesday. She has previously said he was a “good officer” who shot Cure in self-defense.

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

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