While most of Amerikkka is debating failed politics, Quasheda Pierce and Tasha Strachan are mourning the loss of their sons. A.J. Crooms and Sincere Pierce, both Black, were both executed by a killer cop who has been documented for instances of violence between him and his wife (who is a detective with the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office), at least once in front of their young child, as well as threatening to kill a man with whom his wife was reportedly having an affair. Deputy Jafet Santiago-Miranda, of the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office (BCSO), shot into the vehicle the teens occupied and murdered them. Afterward, it was determined that this horrific event was the result of mistaken identity, the Sheriff’s office rationalizing that the deputies thought the vehicle they were driving may have been stolen and that they may have fled the scene of an earlier traffic stop.
November 13, 2020. Crooms, 16, and Pierce, 18, were added to the long list of hashtags in the African community worldwide at the hands of another reckless and thoughtless killer cop. Unfortunately, this scenario is all too familiar. Black people are murdered repeatedly due to “mistakes.” Combs, phones, and toys have all been mistaken for guns by law enforcement and used as reasons to assassinate. So on November 13, a deranged cop with registered behavior issues unloaded his weapon into a moving vehicle.
Less than a minute of the video footage was finally released 3 days after the incident. The BCSO stated that the killer cop had been forced to respond in the manner he chose. However, a police use-of-of-force expert did not agree. Consultant Chuck Drago said the video does not make clear that the shooting was justified. He suggested that the first thing Miranda should have done was “get out of the way.” Drago also noted that there were other problematic issues identified in the video. For example, why were there bullet holes in the side of the car if he had been endangered by the vehicle moving towards him?
These are the early stages of seeking justice for these young men. Most people know all too well that the system is structured against Black victims no matter how misaligned officers are in so called “officer-involved shootings.” Brevard County is no stranger to racial terror and violence.
December 10, 2018. Gregory Edwards (a U.S. military veteran) died in the Brevard County Jail. Deputies beat, kneed, tazed, and pepper sprayed him. Then, he was strapped into a restraint chair with a hood put over his head and left alone to die. Approximately 15 minutes later he was indeed dead.
In 2018, the slave patrol of Brevard County pulled Lee Edward Anderson (an Air Force contractor) over for a traffic stop. Deputies claimed they saw Anderson throw a plastic bag out the window. They detained him and alleged a bag containing crack cocaine was found while searching the area where the stop took place. His car was searched, with nothing found. He was still kidnapped and taken to jail. After viewing the video footage of this incident, it was discovered that nothing had been thrown from the car. The officers had lied.
Recently re-elected Sheriff Wayne Sheriff Ivey and the BCSO were sued in both incidents. Brevard County appears to be a haven for cops with Klan and Colonial-like violent tendencies. Earlier in the year, the President of a Fraternal Order (FOP) of Police chapter had to resign due to a social media post. Bert Gamin endeavored to recruit law enforcement officers, who have well-publicized use-of-force issues in departments from other states, to apply for jobs in Florida! His post was on the Brevard FOP Facebook page. It said, “Hey Buffalo 57… and Atlanta 6… we are hiring in Florida. Lower taxes, no spineless leadership, or dumb mayors rambling on at press conferences… Plus… we got your back! #lawandorderflorida.”
Under the leadership of Sheriff Ivey, legalized terror and racial violence have taken place. Without intervention and judicial enforcement to rectify policies, these practices will be overlooked and condoned. Miranda — the killer of Crooms and Pierce — was reinstated, despite his troubling behavioral issues. This speaks volumes to marginalized communities and citizens. In the case of the young teens who were recently murdered by Miranda, Ivey’s quick tongue to defend such actions aligns with the negligent and homicidal policies and procedures his department has in place. It must be noted that the BCSO’s use of force policy does not ban firing into a moving vehicle. Allow that to sink in.
— Robin Denise Harris
Co-Chair, Green Party of Florida