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Georgia deputy fatally shoots man who was wrongfully imprisoned for 16 years

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(ST MARYS, Ga.) — A man who was wrongfully convicted and spent 16 years in jail was fatally shot by a Camden County deputy during a traffic stop in Georgia on Monday.

Leonard Allan Cure, who was 53, was wrongfully convicted in 2003 of armed robbery, according to the criminal justice organization Innocence Project. Cure was a client of the organization and was exonerated in December 2020 due to a collaborative reinvestigation by the organization and the Conviction Review Unit of the Broward County State Attorney’s Office in Florida.

At about 7:30 a.m. on Monday, a deputy stopped Cure, according to the Georgia Bureau of Investigations. A spokesman for the Camden County Sheriff’s Office told The New York Times that Cure was pulled over for speeding. Cure reportedly got out of the car at the deputy’s request and complied with the officer’s commands until he learned he was under arrest, authorities said.

Police said the deputy used a stun gun against Cure, and Cure allegedly “assaulted” the deputy. Officials said the deputy used the stun gun a second time, as well as a baton, but claimed Cure still did not comply.

“The deputy pulled out his gun and shot Cure,” the GBI said in a statement. EMTs treated Cure, but he died.

No deputies were injured in the incident, according to the bureau. ABC News has reached out to the Camden County Sheriff’s Office.

The GBI is investigating the incident and the findings will be sent to the Brunswick Judicial Circuit District Attorney’s Office for review.

Cure was on his way home from visiting his mother who lives in south Florida, according to the Innocence Project. Cure, who had just been granted $817,000 in compensation for his wrongful conviction by the Florida Legislature, was planning on attending college for music or radio production and was in the process of buying a home, the Innocence Project and the Broward County Attorney’s Office said.

Cure was the first person exonerated by Broward County’s Conviction Review Unit.

“The Leonard we knew was a smart, funny and kind person,” the Broward County State Attorney’s Office said in a statement.

“After he was freed and exonerated by our office, he visited prosecutors at our office and participated in training to help our staff do their jobs in the fairest and most thorough way possible,” it continued. “He would frequently call to check in on Assistant State Attorney Arielle Demby Berger, the head of the Conviction Review Unit, and offer our team encouragement to continue to do the important work of justice.”

Cure was exonerated after the discovery of a receipt that showed he was miles away from the crime scene at the time of the robbery, and that a victim was shown multiple photos of Cure in a photo array in an “unreliable, suggestive identification procedure,” the Innocence Project said in a statement.

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