A Florida man who was exonerated after serving more than 16 years for a crime he did not commit was shot and killed by a deputy in Georgia during a traffic stop, according to a news release from the Georgia Bureau of Investigations.
A Camden County deputy stopped 53-year-old Leonard Allan Cure on Interstate 95 around 7:30 a.m. Monday, the GBI said in a statement. No information was provided on the reason that police pulled Cure over or what led to the traffic stop.
Cure got out of the vehicle at the deputy’s request, the GBI said, and he “complied with the officer’s commands until learning that he was under arrest.”
Cure had been exonerated and released from prison in April of 2020 after serving more than 16 years for a 2003 robbery in Broward County, Florida, court documents show.
“After not complying with the deputy’s requests, the deputy tased Cure,” the GBI said. “Cure assaulted the deputy. The deputy used the Taser for a second time and an ASP baton; however, Cure still did not comply. The deputy pulled out his gun and shot Cure.”
“EMTs treated Cure, but he later died,” said the GBI news release.
The GBI said it will conduct an independent investigation of the incident and turn its findings over to the Brunswick Judicial Circuit District Attorney’s Office for review.
Cure, who was known to friends as Lenny, was returning home to Fairburn, Georgia, after his visiting his mother when the police stopped him, the Florida Innocence Project, which represented Cure, said in a statement Monday. “Sadly his life was cut tragically short,” the project’s executive director, Seth Miller, said.
The group noted that the state of Florida had officially apologized to Cure and in August, he received compensation from the state because of his wrongful conviction.
When the Broward State Attorney’s Office launched a conviction review unit in 2019, one of the first petitions that arrived came from Cure – who previously lost four appeals for post-conviction relief, according to Broward County court records.
The Florida Innocence Project said its investigation found evidence in the form of an ATM receipt showing Cure was miles away from the scene of the crime at the time of the robbery he was convicted of committing.
The review unit “determined that a complete review of the evidence presented at trial and in discovery, as well as further investigation of that evidence demonstrates the case against Mr. Cure gives rise to a reasonable doubt as to his culpability and that he is most likely innocent,” court documents show.
“This is the first exoneration initiated by the Conviction Review Unit,” said a 2020 tweet from the state attorney’s office.
“Welcome to freedom, Leonard,” wrote the Innocence Project after his exoneration.
The Georgia Innocence Project said Cure had recently spoken to students in Jonesboro, Georgia, about wrongful convictions.
“After all he endured, he deserved to live his life in freedom,” the group said.