Boynton Beach, FL – The Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) is investigating what led to the death of a 13-year-old boy who crashed while fleeing police on his illegal dirt bike in Boynton Beach, but the mayor has already made up his mind about who is at fault.
Police said the incident occurred just before 1 p.m. on Dec. 26 when a Boynton Beach police officer saw Stanley “SJ” Davis Jr. driving a dirt bike erratically on Boynton Beach Boulevard, WPTV reported.
Surveillance video from a Chevron gas station showed Davis was filling up his dirt bike with gas when a police SUV pulled into the parking lot, WPEC reported.
Davis jumped on his bike and rode out of the gas station and the police vehicle followed him, the video showed.
A moment later, the same camera captured footage of Davis racing back the other direction and turning left at an intersection.
The video showed the police SUV followed at a distance with its lights on and then navigated its way through the busy intersection behind him.
Police said Davis lost control of his illegal dirt bike about three blocks later, when he went down and slammed into a median curb in the 800-block of North Federal Highway, WPTV reported.
FHP said the 13-year-old boy was thrown from his bike and slammed into a sign on the median strip.
He was pronounced dead at the scene, according to WPTV.
Boynton Beach Police Chief Michael G. Gregory said he had placed the officer involved in the incident paid administrative leave while the incident was investigated, as is standard procedure.
The officer’s name has not been released to the public in accordance with Florida’s “Marsy’s Law,” WPTV reported.
“Our hearts go out to the family members of this young person, and they can trust that we and our law enforcement partners will be conducting a series of thorough and meticulous investigations into the circumstances of what occurred,” Chief Gregory said. “Can’t say how difficult it is to think of the loss of somebody as young as 13 years old. Such a bright future ahead of them. I know our community is upset.”
Boynton Beach Mayor Steven B. Grant went to the scene of the crash and formed an immediate opinion, WPEC reported.
“My statement to them was we should not blame the police department for the actions of an individual officer; however, the city and police are responsible,” Grant told reporters.
The mayor also said he understood why some people believed race played a role in the incident given the city’s history, according to WPEC.
“The situation that created this didn’t happen just yesterday, this is an aspect of how the city has treated parts of the city for decades, even before I was mayor. So, the city is trying to work with the community to get a resolution so that it’s safer for everyone,” Grant said.
But Chief Gregory said the preliminary investigation did not find any evidence that the police vehicle had come into contact with the dirt bike before Davis wrecked, WPEC reported.
The police vehicle was not equipped with a dashcam, according to the department.
Hundreds of community members gathered at the Chevron station on Jan. 1 to participate in a “Walk and Ride” in memory of Davis, WPBF reported.
Community members called for lawmakers to take swift action against the police department.
“It’s hurtful and disturbing because it could have been my child,” one neighborhood parent told WPBF. “We need that police to be fired and justice to be served.”
Activists groups also showed up at the demonstration.
“We won’t back down until we get transparency and until we get justice and what we want to communicate is that no officer can do this, can pursue us and think that he is going to get away with it and that’s why we have come out for Stanley Davis Jr. — to let the police department know, to let this community know that it will not be tolerated,” Bryce Graham, with the National Action Network Central Florida chapter, told WPBF.