Following the news that three Florida teens drowned after driving a stolen vehicle into a pond, the victim’s family’s have begun questioning whether or not the police stood idly by instead of attempting a rescue mission.
We previously reported that Dominique Battle, 16, Ashaunti Butler, 15, and Laniya Miller, 15, had stolen their friend’s Honda Accord and went for a joy ride on the evening of March 30th. Reportedly, it’s against county sheriff’s rules for officers to chase stolen vehicles but a police cruiser was tailing the car when it make a sharp turn and plunged into the 15 foot pond.
According to the Miami Herald, the officers attempted to wade into the water to save the teens, before the darkness and thick swampy mud halted their path.
The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office also released dash cam footage from the incident via Facebook in efforts to downplay the accusations that the officers allowed the teens to drown.
“The sheriff stated at the time that deputies removed their gunbelts and clothes and tried to enter the water to rescue the girls, but the conditions in the water prevented them from doing so. This is exactly what happened, and we stand by that” read the Facebook post.
Both videos seem to show a lack by the officers. Neither video includes audio of a call for back up however, according to reports, 15 officers responded.
Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieri wants the family of the victims to stop spreading a “false narrative” regarding the officers disinterest in saving the teens.
“I have sympathy for their families,” Gualtieri said. “They lost three young girls… But that doesn’t mean they or their lawyers have a right to disparage the deputies who were trying to rescue three kids.”