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Florida boy, 13, killed in dirt bike accident during police traffic stop

Jun 23, 2022

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A 13-year-old Florida boy was killed after his dirt bike crashed during an encounter with police, and his family is demanding answers.

Stanley “SJ” Davis III was reportedly riding recklessly on his dirt bike Sunday afternoon when an officer with the Boynton Beach Police Department attempted to pull him over for a traffic violation, ABC News reports. Surveillance cameras at a Chevron gas station captured the moment Davis filled up his dirt bike and spotted a police cruiser turning to the same station. The teen takes off, and the officer seems to trail him.

There’s no audio on the video, which does not show the actual crash. According to police, the boy’s dirt bike went down “in the 800 block” of North Federal Highway during the attempted stop, killing Davis.  

Stanley Davis is seen on his dirt bike at a gas station in Boynton Beach — as are local police. (Photo: Screenshot/YouTube)

The police vehicle that was involved in the incident was “not equipped with a dashcam,” according to the Boynton Beach Police Department.

In a statement on Sunday, the Boynton Beach Police Department said the “preliminary investigation indicates that the dirt bike operator was observed driving recklessly on Boynton Beach Boulevard. Officers attempted a traffic stop, and the dirt bike went down in the 800 block of North Federal Highway.”

“I’ve not seen any evidence or heard any witness testimony that states that the officer’s vehicle came in contact with the dirt bike operator’s dirt bike,” Police Chief Michael G. Gregory said during a press conference Sunday.

Davis’ family members blame the police for his death. They say he was killed while trying out the dirt bike he received as a Christmas gift. 

“They chased him, chased him. He just panicked because he’s a kid. Chased him right to his damn grave, and figured he’s just another Black boy, ain’t nothing is going to be done,” said the boy’s grandmother, Tina Hunter. “That’s the prejudice of the Boynton Beach police that have been having problems for all these damn years.”

“Right now, it’s hard. He’s all I had. That’s my only child,” said Davis’ mother, Shannon Thompson, in a phone interview with ABC News. “Right now I’m just trying to be strong.”

“Great kid, honor roll kid, great football player, great big brother, loving son,” said the victim’s father, Stanley Davis Sr. “Just all around perfect kid. Never have an issue with him.”

In the state of Florida, a dirt bike is considered an “off-highway vehicle”, and the operator must be 16 years old.

“He could have questioned him in a safe space when he parked to get gas,” Hunter said of the officer involved with the fatal crash. “You waited and chased him until you chased him to his death.”

The unnamed officer has been placed on administrative leave amid an investigation led by the Florida Highway Patrol, according to the report. The officer “remains on administrative leave, per department policy.”

“The Florida Highway Patrol is conducting an impartial, objective, third-party investigation that is separate from our internal investigation,” a BBPD spokesperson said. 

“Based on our preliminary investigation, the officer’s vehicle did not come into contact with the dirt bike,” said a Florida Highway Patrol spokesman.

Mayor Steven B. Grant has urged the public not to rush to blame the police.

“We should not blame the police department for the actions of an individual officer. However, the city and the police are responsible,” said Grant hours after the crash. 

“You know, the situation that created this, you know, it didn’t happen just yesterday. This is an aspect of how the city has treated parts of the community for decades before I was even mayor,” he maintained. “And so the city is trying to understand and work with the community to get a result, resolution so that it is safer for everyone.”

Meanwhile, Hunter said her grandson was constantly harassed by police. She believes racism is the reason why he was targeted.

“When I take him outside to play, there go the police,” she said.

The police department responded to her claims in a statement to ABC News.  

“We do not have any calls for service, incident reports, traffic citations or citizen complaints to substantiate the allegation referenced below,” a BBPD spokesperson said. “We recognize there is tension in the community about how this occurred, and we believe an objective and impartial investigation by the Florida Highway Patrol will help build trust in the outcome, whichever way it leads.”

A vigil was held Monday to honor Davis, who played football for the Boynton Beach Bulldogs, and an event dubbed “Bikes Up for SJ” will honor Davis’ memory on Saturday. His head coach, Jermaine Horne, said he was a “good kid” and that his death has left his teammates numb.

“As of now, it’s like a numbness,” said Horne. “Each day we get closer to accepting that it’s a reality, but right now we can’t believe it.”

Rodney Atwaters, who also coached Davis, described him as a “dedicated” football player and noted that “a lot of kids are just hurt” after this tragedy.

“I think what [the kids] should learn from Stanley is what an agreeable kid he was,” Atwaters said. “He was very respectful no matter what — not only to us adults, but to all the kids, all the teammates … he brought joy to everybody.”

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