The Georgia police officer who recently shot an acquitted man during a traffic stop in Georgia was once fired for excessive use of force.
Camden County Sheriff’s Deputy Buck Aldridge killed unarmed Leonard Cure, 53, after pulling him over on I-95 Monday.
Cure had been released after serving sixteen years in prison for a wrongful conviction for armed robbery, and was unarmed at the time of the arrest for speeding. Bodycam footage showed him lashing out after being tasered by Aldridge. The footage shows the officer shooting Cure as he lay on the ground.
It has now emerged that the officer in question was dismissed from his previous job because he violated the department’s use of force policy during a traffic stop.
Aldridge was fired from the Kingsland Police Department in 2017 for an incident in which he allegedly picked up a woman and threw her to the ground during a traffic stop.
Buck Aldridge fatally shot unarmed man Leonard Cure during a traffic stop near the Georgia state line on Monday after Cure refused to submit to arrest and the two got into an argument
Cure was released from prison in 2020 after serving 16 years in prison for a wrongful conviction for armed robbery
A 2017 internal investigation report into the incident includes comments from another officer involved in the stop who said he thought Aldridge’s response was “a bit over the top.”
A second officer said: ‘I see a police officer being way too aggressive at first. He didn’t feel like picking her up and throwing her on the ground.’
The personnel files obtained by News4JAX also reveal that Aldridge received several warnings about his conduct in the years leading up to his dismissal.
In 2013, a performance review found that there was room for improvement in his judgment and decision-making. A comment from the record advised him to be “calm, cool, collected.”
The following year he was warned for unnecessary use of force during a traffic stop.
During his five years at Kingsland, Aldridge completed 618 hours of training, including issues such as de-escalation techniques, use of deadly force and traffic stops.
Experts speculated that despite his history, he could have been given a new police role due to personnel issues.
Aldridge was fired from a previous job with the Kingsland Police Department in 2017 for violating the use of force policy
Monday’s traffic stop quickly turned violent after Aldridge deployed his Taser against Cure when he refused to put his hands on his vehicle
Cure was convicted in 2003 of the armed robbery of a drugstore in Dania Beach, Florida. He was sentenced to life in prison due to previous convictions for theft and other crimes.
But in 2020, his conviction was overturned after a judge ruled there was no solid evidence and that his alibi had been overlooked.
On Monday, Cure was on his way home from visiting his sick mother in Florida when he was stopped by Aldridge.
Bodycam footage showed a heated argument between the men after Aldridge accused Cure of driving 100mph.
The incident escalated when Cure refused to put his hands on his vehicle, prompting Aldridge to deploy his Taser.
The altercation then turned physical, with the two engaged in a fight until Aldridge managed to overpower Cure, who continued to resist arrest.
Aldridge shot Cure as he lay on the ground, with footage showing him then trying to revive him until first responders arrived.
His death has reignited conversations about police brutality in the US
Ben Crump, a lawyer for Cure’s family, suggested Aldridge was too aggressive from the start and this “triggered” Cure, who his family said was suffering from emotional stress from his years in prison.
“We do not understand why more efforts have not been made to de-escalate the situation.” Crump said.
Aldridge, pictured left comforted after the shooting, received several previous warnings about his behavior, especially during traffic stops
Ben Crump, an attorney for Cure’s family, has suggested that Aldridge was too aggressive from the start of the interaction and did little to de-escalate the situation.
His mother, Mary Cure, also said she often feared her son would be involved in a traffic stop.
She said NBC News: ‘Every time he left, I felt uneasy because I thought, “Is he going to get a traffic stop? Is he going to be a victim of that?”
“From the moment he was released, he has never been released. Lived in constant fear: will this be the day they lock him up, beat him up or kill him? I’ve lived with that. That’s torture.’
She added: “He said, ‘I love you and I’ll see you soon,’ which is the last I heard from him. My heart is closed and my soul aches.’
The Camden County Prosecutor’s Office told News4JAX it will not comment on any use of force until the investigation is complete.