Boynton Beach, Florida, Mayor Steven B. Grant says that police are to blame for the tragic and untimely death of a 13-year-old boy who was seen erratically driving a dirt bike down a city street, WPEC-TV and WPTV-TV report.
What are the details?
The incident took place on Dec. 26 when a Boynton Beach police officer saw 13-year-old Stanley Davis Jr. erratically navigating the city's streets on a dirt bike.
Local reports state that surveillance video from a Chevron gas station showed the teen gassing up his dirt bike when a police SUV pulled into the parking lot.
The teen reportedly panicked when he saw the officer and jumped on the bike to flee the scene.
A brief pursuit ensued, and moments later, the teen crashed his bike into the median curb, where he sustained fatal injuries.
Reports said that the teen was pronounced dead at the scene.
Grant, according to reports, immediately ran to the scene of the accident and determined that the officer was responsible for the teen's death.
"My statement to them was we should not blame the police department for the actions of an individual officer; however, the city and police are responsible," he insisted.
This 'will not be tolerated'
Local activist groups have said that they believe the the teen's status as a black resident in the city might have played a role in what took place on the day after Christmas.
Bryce Graham with the National Action Network Central Florida said that he and others "won't back down" until they get "transparency" and "justice."
"What we want to communicate is that no officer can do this, can pursue us and think that he is going to get away with it and that’s why we have come out for Stanley Davis Jr. — to let the police department know, to let this community know that it will not be tolerated,” Graham said.
Grant explained that he can understand why some people might believe that race was a factor in the incident.
"The situation that created this didn't happen just yesterday, this is an aspect of how the city has treated parts of the city for decades, even before I was mayor," he said. "So, the city is trying to work with the community to get a resolution so that it's safer for everyone."
'Prejudice' of police department is a problem, resident says
Tina Hunter, the teen's grandson, is heartbroken over the loss.
“That was my grandson, my only grandson,” Hunter said. “They chased him, chased him. He just panicked because he’s a kid. Chased him right to his damn grave and 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.”
In a statement on the incident, Boynton Beach Police Chief Michael G. Gregory said that the unnamed officer was placed on paid administrative leave pending an investigation.
“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,” Gregory said of the teen's death. “Can’t say how difficult it is to think of the loss of somebody as young as 13 years old. Such a bright future ahead of them. I know our community is upset.”
The Florida Highway Patrol and the Boynton Beach Police Department's internal affairs division are both investigating the crash and the officer's actions.
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