Atlanta

Man killed during traffic stop moved to metro Atlanta to start new life after being exonerated

CLAYTON COUNTY, Ga. — A man who spent 16 years in a Florida prison for a crime he didn’t commit moved to Georgia to start a new life.

Now, 53-year-old Leonard Cure is dead after a deputy killed him during a traffic stop near the Georgia-Florida line.

Cure had moved to metro Atlanta to start a new life after he was released. Weeks before he was killed, the Georgia Innocence Project arranged for Cure to speak to students at Jonesboro High School in Clayton County.

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Christian Stegall was with Cure when he spoke. He says you could hear a pin drop when Cure told students about spending all those years behind bars for something he didn’t do.

“It really was therapeutic for him to tell his story,” Stegall told Channel 2′s Tom Jones.

Then, Monday night, Stegall got the news Cure was dead. Killed during a traffic stop.

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Clare Gilbert with the Georgia Innocence Project said the news was heartbreaking.

“It is just incredibly tragic,” Gilbert said.

Stegall says Cure was upbeat about his future and happy to spread the word about the impact of wrongful convictions. “Every time we saw Leonard he always had a positive outlook,” he told Channel 2 Action News.

Stegall says when Cure spoke at Jonesboro High School, the school initially wanted him to speak in its mock courtroom.

“And Leonard was like I can’t. I don’t want to be in a courtroom anymore,” Stegall pointed out.

He wonders if that was on Cure’s mind when a Camden County deputy pulled him over Monday morning on I-95. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation said Cure first cooperated and then assaulted the deputy when he learned he was about to be arrested.

The deputy first tased Cure then shot and killed him. Gilbert wants to make sure the public knows assault doesn’t mean someone is violent.

She said it could also mean a person’s actions can put someone in fear.

“What we were particularly concerned with is that we have not seen anything remotely approaching violence in Mr. Cure. Completely the opposite” she said.

Staff with the Innocence Project said Cure moved to the metro area after he got out of prison and was excited about buying a new home. They’re disturbed that won’t happen now.

“It’s really sad and unfortunate that we’re at this point and time,” Stegall said.

Cure was awarded $817,000 for his wrongful incarceration The GBI is investigating and hasn’t said why the deputy pulled Cure over or why he was arresting him.

The deputy is currently on administrative leave.

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