New details have emerged about the violent past of a Georgia police officer who was fired after a violent traffic stop, only to shoot another driver after being reinstated.
Camden County Sergeant Buck Aldridge was suspended last month in the death of Leonard Cure, who was recently acquitted after serving 16 years of a life sentence for a crime he did not commit.
Aldridge, 41, had previously been fired from the neighboring Kingsland Police Department in 2017 after a series of violent incidents that 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 his promotion.
“Show me your damn hands, put your damn hands up now, put them up,” the officer yelled.
Sergeant Buck Aldridge was fired from the Kingsland Police Department in 2017 for violent behavior, only to be hired by neighboring Camden County nine months later
Aldridge had given chase at speeds of up to 120 miles per hour before the suspect crashed his car and was dragged out and struck in the head by the officer
“Shut 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 while driving along Interstate 95 near the Georgia-Florida line.
The 53-year-old was sentenced to life in prison for armed robbery in 2003 but was released in 2020 after a review found there had been no physical evidence or witnesses and that his sound alibis had been ignored.
Police dashcam footage showed a heated exchange between the men after Aldridge accused Cure of driving at 100mph.
Cure initially followed orders to put his hands on his car, but refused to put them behind his back when Aldridge informed him he was going to prison.
The argument turned violent, with the officer using his baton and two Taser strikes before ultimately shooting Cure as he fell to the ground.
“I believe my brother may have had mental health issues,” Michael Cure told the Associated Press after his death on Oct. 16.
“The officer just triggered it, no doubt.
“It was excitement that came with excitement.”
“He really should be alive.” The officer hit him with his baton and he swore at him, twice. But he didn’t have to shoot him.’
Leonard Cure was sentenced to life in prison for armed robbery in 2003, but was released in 2020 after a review found that no physical evidence or witnesses had been presented at his trial and that his sound alibis had been ignored
Police dashcam footage showed the argument turning 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 settlement would be poor decision making,” he said news4jax.com.
“Here you see him confronting a person long before his backup arrives. And you had the same thing in the previous incident.
“You obviously had signs that this could be a much more problematic arrest than you anticipated.”
Personnel records show Aldridge received multiple warnings for his behavior over a decade, including a 2013 performance review that questioned his judgment and decision-making and told him to be “calm, cool and collected.”
But he was disciplined for unnecessary use of force in February 2014 and May 2017 before being fired in August of that year when he tried to handcuff a woman during a traffic stop just to keep her from her car.
An officer told investigators that his colleague handcuffed the woman after he “picked her up and threw her on the ground.”
A second colleague said: “I think a police officer is way too aggressive in the first place. “He had no business picking her up and throwing her on the ground.”
Nine months later, he was hired by Sheriff Jim Proctor to work for the Camden County Police Department, where he received no further disciplinary sanctions from his superiors.
But activists are taking a new look at his behavior in light of Cure’s death and want to know why he was hired in the first place.
“If someone is fired from another police department for excessive use of force, they will not be hired by the Maryland State Police or the Baltimore Police Department,” said Maj. Neill Franklin SunSentinal.com.
Franklin, who led training programs for both agencies, said being fired by another police department would deter potential employers but would not automatically be a lock.
“It’s just not worth the risk,” he added.
Questions have also been raised about the Camden County Police Department, where six officers were charged with violent crimes last year.
“They let these deputies run wild and do whatever they want,” civil rights attorney Harry Daniels told the website.
“The consequences came from the GBI and the District Attorney’s Office. “It should not have come from an outside agency.”
Sheriff Proctor was already outraged in 2013 when he suspended and then reinstated a deputy who was a black prisoner in a striped prison uniform “picking cotton” for a Halloween party.
“Extremely insensitive, that’s what it is,” he explained at the time.
“I don’t think he’s a racist.” I had to take action.
“A lot of thought and prayer went into this decision,” he added.
Investigators are examining footage of Sergeant Buck during the 2022 traffic stop when he violently dragged a suspect from a crashed car and hit him in the head as he lay on his back
“I thought about firing him, but decided against it.”
Aldridge is currently on administrative leave and video of the 2022 stop is being examined by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation as part of its investigation 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.”