Outrage is mounting against a South Florida police department after a Black teenager on a dirt bike died during a police chase, according to The Atlantic Black Star.
The boy was identified as 13-year-old Stanley Davis Jr. by a family member. Davis died Sunday (December 26) when a Boynton Beach police officer attempted to do a traffic stop on him. The attempt kicked up into a chase, but the boy lost control of his dirt bike and hit a median curb in the 800 block of North Federal Highway, WPTV reports.
Davis, who was wearing a helmet, flew off the bike and slammed into a sign in the median, according to Florida Highway Patrol (FHP). He was later pronounced dead at the scene.
Surveillance video obtained by WPTV shows the boy fueling up his dirt bike at a local gas station before he rode off. A Boynton Beach police vehicle, without its lights on, immediately starts following Davis as he darted into traffic in the footage.
People angered over the boy's death demanded the police release dashcam video, but officials say the vehicle was not equipped with one at the time.
Tina Hunter, the grandmother of the 13-year-old, says Davis was panicked during the chase.
"That was my grandson, my only grandson. They chased him, chased him," she claims. "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."
Boynton Beach Police Chief Michael G. Gregory offered condolences to Davis' family during a Sunday press conference:
"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. Such a bright future ahead of them. I know our community is upset."
Officials also say FHP will be investigating the incident for traffic homicide. The Palm Beach County Medical Examiner's Office will conduct a separate investigation shared with FHP and the police department, according to Gregory. After those investigations, there will be an internal affairs investigation to see if there were policy violations.
"At this point, in the preliminary investigation, I am not seeing any evidence or heard any witnesses testimony that states that the officer's vehicle came in contact with the dirt bike," the police chief says. The officer involved is on paid leave pending FHP's investigation, according to reporters.
Boynton Beach Mayor Steven B. Grant says "the city and police are responsible" for Davis' 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. 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. So the city is trying to work with the community to get a resolution so that it's safer for everyone."
Reading about Black trauma can have an impact on your mental health. If you or someone you know need immediate mental health help, text "STRENGTH" to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 to be connected to a certified crisis counselor. These additional resources are also available:
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255
The National Alliance on Mental Illness 1-800-950-6264
The Association of Black Psychologists 1-301-449-3082
The Anxiety and Depression Association of America 1-240-485-1001
For more mental health resources, click HERE.