Georgia cop who fatally shot Leonard Cure was previously fired for throwing a woman to ground during arrest and last year punched another motorbus after dragging him from crashed car
Fresh details have emerged about the violent past of a Georgia police officer who was sacked after a violent traffic stop, only to shoot dead another driver after being rehired.
Sergeant Buck Aldridge of Camden County was suspended last month over the death of Leonard Cure who had only recently been exonerated after spending 16 years of a life sentence in prison for a crime he did not commit.
Aldridge, 41, had already been fired by the neighboring Kingsland Police Department in 2017 after a series of violent incidents which culminated in him throwing a woman to the ground during a traffic stop.
Now disturbing footage has been released of the former Marine violently dragging a suspect from a crashed car and punching him in the head as he lay on his back during an arrest in June last year – two months before he was promoted.
‘Show me your f***ing hands, get your f**** hands up now, get em’ up,’ the officer screamed.
Sergeant Buck Aldridge was fired by Kingsland Police Department for violent conduct in 2017, only to be hired by neighboring Camden County nine months later
Aldridge had given chase at speeds of up to 120mph before the suspect crashed his car and was dragged out and punched in the head by the officer
‘Shut the f*** up!’ he shouted as he hit the man.
Sixteen months later, Cure was returning from a visit to his mother in Florida when Aldridge pulled him over as he drove down Interstate 95 near the Georgia-Florida line.
The 53-year-old was sentenced to life for armed robbery in 2003 but freed in 2020 after a review found there had been no physical evidence or witnesses, and that his solid alibis had been ignored.
Police dashcam footage showed a heated exchange between the men after Aldridge accused Cure of driving at 100mph.
Cure initially obeyed instructions to put his hands on his car, but refused to put them behind his back when Aldridge told him he was going to jail.
The argument became violent, with the officer using his baton and two taser strikes before finally shooting Cure as he fell to the ground.
‘I believe there were possibly some mental issues going on with my brother,’ Michael Cure told the Associated Press after his death on October 16.
‘The officer just triggered him, undoubtedly triggered him.
‘It was excitement met with excitement.
‘He really should be alive. The officer hit him with his baton and he tased him, twice as a matter of fact. But he did not have to shoot him.’
Leonard Cure was sentenced to life for armed robbery in 2003 but freed in 2020 after a review found there had been no physical evidence or witnesses presented at his trial, and that his solid alibis had been ignored
Police dashcam footage showed the argument become violent, with the officer using his baton and two taser strikes before finally shooting Cure as he fell to the ground
Former Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office officer James Brown said footage of both the 2022 stop and Cure’s death the following year showed a similar pattern.
‘The comparison thing would be poor decision-making,’ he told news4jax.com.
‘Here you see him confront an individual well before his backup gets there. And you had the same thing in the previous incident.
‘You obviously had signs that this could be a lot more of a problematic arrest than you expected.’
Personnel files reveal Aldridge received several warnings about his conduct over the course of a decade including a 2013 performance review which questioned his judgement and decision-making, urging him to be ‘calm, cool, collected’.
But he was disciplined for using unnecessary force in February 2014 and in May 2017, before being sacked in August of that year when he tried to handcuff a woman during a traffic stop simply to keep her outside her car.
One deputy told investigators his colleague handcuffed the woman after ‘picking her up and throwing her on the ground’.
A second colleague said: ‘I see a police officer being way too aggressive to start with. He had no business picking her up and throwing her on the ground.’
Nine months later he was hired by Sheriff Jim Proctor for the Camden County Police Department where he attracted no further disciplinary sanctions from his superiors.
But campaigners are taking a fresh look at his conduct in light of Cure’s death and are demanding to know why he was hired in the first place.
‘If someone’s terminated from another police department for use of excessive force, they’re not getting hired by the Maryland State Police or the Baltimore Police Department,’ Major Neill Franklin told SunSentinal.com.
Franklin, who led training programs for both agencies, said that dismissal by another police department would deter potential employers but would not automatically be a bar.
‘It’s just not worth the risk,’ he added.
It has also raised questions about the Camden County Police Department where six deputies have been indicted on felony charges for violence in the last year.
‘You’ve got these deputies running wild and doing what they want to do,’ civil rights attorney Harry Daniels told the website.
‘The consequences have come from the GBI and the district attorney’s office. It should not come from an outside agency.’
Investigators are examining footage of Sgt Buck during the 2022 traffic stop when he violently dragged a suspect from a crashed car and punched him in the head as he lay on his back
Sheriff Proctor faced outrage as far back as 2013 when he first suspended and then reinstated a deputy who had dressed in blackface as a black prisoner in a striped jail uniform ‘picking cotton’ for a Halloween party.
‘Extremely insensitive, is what it is,’ he explained at the time.
‘I do not believe he is a racist. I have had to take action.
‘There’s been a lot of thought, a lot of prayer into this decision,’ he added.
‘I thought about firing him but decided against it.’
Aldridge is currently on administrative leave, and the video of the 2022 stop is being examined by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation as part of its inquiry into Cure’s death.
‘From what I saw in the video, he deserves to be fired,’ said former Memphis police officer Thaddeus Johnson, a criminal justice professor at Georgia State University.
‘He escalated the situation with Mr Cure, he has no control over his emotions.’