Boynton Beach Bulldogs
(BOYNTON BEACH, Fla.) — Community members voiced their concerns during a city commission meeting in Boynton Beach, Florida, on Tuesday evening after an investigation into the death of a 13-year-old boy, who died after his dirt bike crashed during an attempted traffic stop, determined that the officer will not face any changes.
Stanley Davis III, known as “SJ” to his family and friends, died on Dec. 26, 2021, after he lost control of his dirt bike and crashed into a curb while being pursued by a Boynton Beach police officer.
“I think it was a slap in the face, a disservice and a dishonor for highway patrol to come to that conclusion,” a community member told incoming city officials who were sworn into office during the meeting.
“You all right now have the opportunity to do the right thing — to make that determination to terminate him … this SJ movement is still what it’s about and we’re asking that you all pay attention to it,” the community member added.
Davis’ grandmother, Tina Hunter, told ABC News that her grandson received the dirt bike as a Christmas gift and was trying it out the day after Christmas when an officer attempted to pull him over. His death has been the subject of heated discussions during the bi-monthly city commission meetings over the past three months.
Under Florida law, a dirt bike is considered an “off-highway vehicle” and the operator of such a vehicle must be at least 16 years old.
According to the investigation report released by Florida Highway Patrol on March 31, the “investigation is complete, and no charges shall be filed because the at-fault person expired as a result of the crash.”
The report found that the crash occurred while Davis was traveling at approximately 85 miles per hour while “unlawfully fleeing an attempted traffic stop,” the Boynton Beach Police Department said in a statement.
Davis’ parents, Stanley Davis, Jr. and Shannon Thompson, urged city officials to hold police accountable for their son’s death and called for the officer’s termination during a press conference last month.
“It’s unfortunate that he was chased to his death and taken away from not only myself but the family and the community,” Thomson said during the press conference on March 1.
Attorney Ben Crump, who is representing the Davis family, has not responded to ABC News’ request for comment following the release of the FHP report,
The report, which was obtained by ABC News, also determined that there was no contact between Davis’ dirt bike and the police officer’s vehicle, confirming the initial findings of a police investigation.
“Now that the FHP traffic homicide investigation is completed, the Boynton Beach Police Department will conduct an internal affairs investigation to determine if any police department policies were violated by any Boynton Beach law enforcement officer involved in the incident,” Boynton Beach Police said in a statement.
According to BBPD policy, “Vehicular pursuits will be initiated only if the officer reasonably believes that the person(s) fleeing has committed a forcible felony.” Asked if the officer violated this law, a BBPD spokesperson said, “The investigation into this crash is ongoing.”
“There never should have been a high-speed pursuit and it never should have resulted in the death of a child,” Crump previously told ABC News. “The Boynton Beach Police Department’s own policy is that pursuits should only be initiated if the officer reasonably believes the person fleeing has committed a felony. We’re talking about a child.”
Amid pressure from the public to release the officer’s name, BBPD said it cannot because the officer invoked his right to Marsy’s Law.
“The law gives every victim the right to prevent the disclosure of information or records that could be used to locate or harass the victim or the victim’s family, or which could disclose confidential or privileged information of the victim,” a BBPD spokesperson previously told ABC News.
Thompson said that the invocation of Marsy’s Law and refusing to release the officer’s name is a “betrayal to not only myself, but to the community.”
“I was very disgusted with that as my son was the victim. Our family is the victim,” Thompson said.
The community also expressed concerns and anger over Davis’ death during a police community meeting on March 31 — the first of a series of meetings that are expected to take place once every two months.
At the meeting, which was held the day the FHP report was released, several people repeatedly pressed BBPD Police Chief Michael Gregory for answers regarding the investigation and directed questions at him about the department’s vehicular pursuit policy.
“We’re not allowed to comment on the case,” Gregory said, indicating that the investigation is ongoing.
Asked what police are doing to address mistrust in the community, Gregory pointed to the neighborhood officer program where police participate in activities with youth and to the newly launched community policing meetings.
“Every two months we’re gonna be here, hoping that you’ll come back,” he said.
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