By BILL HUTCHINSON, ABC News
(COCOA, Fla.) — Nursing a bullet wound to her left leg, Quasheda Pierce said she remembers saying her final tearful goodbyes to her 18-year-old son whose casket had just been lowered into his grave at a Florida cemetery when gunfire erupted.
The 39-year-old mother, whose son, Sincere Pierce, was shot to death in November by a Brevard County Sheriff’s deputy, told ABC News that she recalls the burning in her leg and falling to the graveyard grass in disbelief at the chaos taking place at her child’s burial service.
“I really don’t know what happened. I was out,” Pierce told ABC News in a phone interview. “I heard a gunshot and felt burning in my leg. The last thing I remember is I turned to my mom and said, ‘I’ve been shot.'”
The shooting Saturday at the Riverview Memorial Gardens Cemetery in Cocoa, Florida, also left a teenage friend of her son with a leg wound.
Deputy Tod Goodyear, a spokesperson for the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office, said preliminary evidence and statements from witnesses indicates that the 16-year-old wounded in the incident was responsible for the shooting.
“The investigation to date, which includes witness testimony and physical evidence, has determined that the single shot allegedly originated from the 16-year-old who apparently experienced an accidental discharge from a firearm concealed on his person during the funeral service,” Goodyear said in a statement sent to ABC News on Tuesday morning. “The round penetrated and exited his leg prior to impacting Quasheda Pierce’s leg.”
Goodyear said Pierce provided investigators with a statement, but the wounded juvenile, whose name was not released, is refusing to cooperate with law enforcement.
He said sheriff dispatchers received multiple 911 calls initially reporting that a male and female received injuries that were not life-threatening when shot during a funeral service.
The juvenile allegedly involved in the shooting has not been charged. Goodyear said the findings of the investigation will be presented to the State Attorney’s Office.
Pierce disputed the sheriff’s account of the incident.
“No kid had a gun. I’m lost. I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Pierce told ABC News. “These were school kids.”
Goodyear had no comment on Pierce’s statement. “Agents and Crime Scene Investigators are continuing to conduct the active and ongoing criminal investigation,” he said.
Pierce’s son and 16-year-old Angelo Crooms were fatally shot by a sheriff’s deputy Nov. 13.
Sheriff’s officials said Nov. 17 that deputies attempted to make a traffic stop at about 10:30 a.m. on a vehicle they suspected was possibly stolen, but the car fled. The car was later spotted by two deputies, sheriff’s officials said in a statement.
Patrol car dashcam video released by the sheriff’s office showed a gray car the deputies were trying to stop pull into the driveway of a home. As the deputies got out of their patrol cars and approached the vehicle, the car backed into the street and the deputies drew their weapons.
The footage showed the car appear to move in the direction of one of the deputies, identified as Jafet Santiago-Miranda, who fired several shots through the windshield after repeatedly shouting orders at the driver, identified as Crooms, to stop. Bullet holes were also found along the passenger side of the car.
“Deputy Santiago-Miranda gives repeated verbal commands, seven to be exact, for the driver of the vehicle to stop the car,” Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey said in a statement. “However, the driver of the vehicle, 16-year-old Angelo Crooms, turns and accelerates the vehicle towards Deputy Santiago-Miranda, who was then forced to fire his service weapon in an attempt to stop the deadly threat of the car from crashing into him.”
Sincere Pierce, who was in the back seat of the car, and Crooms were both wounded in the incident and taken to a hospital, where they were pronounced dead.
Relatives of the two teens said the vehicle the boys were in was not stolen but was loaned to them by a family friend.
Santiago-Miranda was placed on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation being conducted by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
Civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump, who is representing the families of the two teens, said he disagreed with the sheriff’s version of how the shooting unfolded.
Crump said he has asked for the sheriff’s office to release all footage of the incident.
“It is painfully troubling to us that this teen driver and the teen back-seat passenger were terrified and drove around deputies who approached the vehicle with guns drawn. Believe your own eyes,” Crump said in a statement. “The video shows the deputy was still shooting as the car cleared him and posed no threat.”
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