A South Florida teen is dead after being chased by a local police officer who was trying to pull him over. The mayor says the boy’s death is the responsibility of the “city and police.”
The boy’s grandmother believes that police targeted her only grandson because of his race and that “nothing” will be done to bring forth justice.
WPTV reports that a surveillance video shows 13-year-old Stanley Davis Jr. riding his red and white dirt bike at a gas station in Boynton Beach. Footage shows him leaving the gas station and a Boynton Beach police SUV start following him to perform a traffic stop. The boy rides off in one direction out of the frame of the camera, then reappears a second later after apparently making a U-turn, when he rides past the gas station and makes a left turn onto a cross street and disappears from view with the police vehicle following him with its lights on.
The Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) is one of the bodies conducting the investigation, and the officer involved in the traffic stop is now on paid leave. The FHP states that while being chased for three blocks (northbound on U.S. Highway 1), Davis lost control of his dirt bike and hit the curb of the median. After hitting the curb, he smashed into a one-way sign in the median, eventually landing in the road. He was pronounced dead on the scene.
The city’s mayor, Steven B. Grant, went to the scene of Davis’ crash and met with concerned community stakeholders about the tragedy. In an interview with CBS News 12, he said that “the city and police” were responsible for his death.
“My statement to them was we should not blame the police department for the actions of an individual officer,” he stated. “However, the city and police are responsible.”
Chief Michael G. Gregory of the Boynton Beach Police Department (BBPD) gave a public statement at a joint press conference between BBPD and FHP.
He said, “Our hearts go out to the family members of this young person, and they can trust that we and our law enforcement partners will be conducting a series of thorough and meticulous investigations into the circumstances of what occurred.”
“Can’t say how difficult it is to think of the loss of somebody as young as 13 years old,” he continued. “Such a bright future ahead of them. I know our community is upset.”
Davis grandmother, Tina Hunter, said she believes her grandson panicked, CBS Miami reports.
“They chased him, chased him. He just panicked because he’s a kid. Chased him right to his damn grave,” Hunter commented.
She also believes that his race played a part in his death and for that reason why justice won’t be served on his behalf: “[They] figured he’s just another Black boy and ain’t nothing is going to be done. That’s the prejudice of the Boynton Beach police that we’ve been having problems for all these damn years.”
Like the grandmother, the mayor addressed the race element at play.
The mayor could be referencing, that despite being one of the earliest populations to settle the area, free Blacks have experienced discrimination since the late 1800s including the town stealing Black land in the 1920s, then during segregation not allowing Blacks to the beach and as recently as this spring, a Florida appeals court rule to uphold Tasha Ford, a Black woman’s arrest for filming police as they arrested her son.
“The city is trying to work with the community to get a resolution so that it’s safer for everyone,” he concluded.
Despite Hunter’s disillusionment with the department, Gregory maintains that his department will get to the bottom of this and that an internal review will be conducted into the Davis chase to determine if any BBPD procedures or policies were violated by the pursuit. One thing that has been revealed since the fatal accident is that the police vehicle involved was not equipped with a dashcam.
Another thing is that according to the department’s pursuit policy an officer can only pursue a suspect if the person is suspected of committing a forcible felony. Although it is not legal to ride dirt bikes on the street, such an offense would not be a felony.
Still, CBS News quotes Gregory as saying, “At this point in the preliminary investigation, I have not seen any evidence or heard any witness testimony that states the officer’s vehicle came in contact with the dirt bike.”
Davis’ father, Stanley Sr. described his son as “a great football player, great big brother, loving son. All-around perfect kid, never had any issues with him.”
In addition to his grandmother, father, and law enforcement, Davis’ football team, the Boynton Beach Bulldogs, spoke on his death.
A post on Twitter spoke to his character as a teammate saying, “Its With A Heavy Heart That We Are Tragically & Painfully Forced To Say Goodbye To One Of Our Own 13yr Old Stanley Davis Jr. A Child With A Illuminating Smile & A Beautiful Happy Spirit That Shined Everywhere He Went SJ You Were A Becan Of Joy SJ Will Be Truly Be Missed By All RIP.”
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