Family seeks response after 13-year-old Florida boy dies in motorcycle accident while trying to stop traffic

A 13-year-old boy died after his motorcycle crashed during a traffic stop attempt in Boynton Beach, Florida, on Sunday, and now his family is seeking answers from police.

The boy was identified by his mother and grandmother, who spoke to ABC News on Wednesday, and identified him as Stanley “SJ” Davis III.

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

Davis’ mother, Shannon Thompson, said he had just turned 13 on Dec. 5 and that football was one of his biggest passions.

“Right now it’s hard. He’s everything I had. It’s my only child,” she said in a phone interview. “Right now, I’m just trying to be strong.”

Inside the deadly crash

Davis’ grandmother Tina Hunter told ABC News that her granddaughter received the bike as a Christmas present and tried it on the day after Christmas when an officer tried to pull him over.

Under Florida law, a dirt bike is considered an “off-highway vehicle,” and the driver of such a vehicle must be 16 years old.

Surveillance video obtained by ABC News, which appears to have been taken shortly before the fatal crash, shows Davis stopping at a Chevron gas station to refill his tank. As he leaves the gas station, it appears a Boynton Beach Police vehicle is following him.

“He could have questioned him in a safe place when he parked to get gas,” Hunter said. “You waited and chased him until you chased him to his death.”

A police spokesman told ABC News that the officer involved in the incident was put on administrative leave on Sunday, and from Wednesday afternoon, the officer will remain “on administrative leave according to the department’s policy.”

The Florida Highway Patrol is leading the investigation into the fatal crash, a spokesman for ABC News said Wednesday, but the agency is also working with the Boynton Beach Police Department, which is conducting its own internal investigation.

“The Florida Highway Patrol is conducting an impartial, objective third-party investigation that is separate from our internal investigation,” a BBPD spokesman said, adding that the Palm Beach County Medical Examiner’s Office is also conducting its own crash investigation.

Police said the department had “provided all video evidence” to the Florida Highway Patrol to assist with the investigation, but said the police vehicle involved in the incident “was not equipped with a dashcam.”

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

A spokesman for FHP reiterated the finding and told ABC News: “Based on our preliminary investigation, the officer’s vehicle did not come into contact with the dirt bike.”

According to the BBPD policy, “Vehicle prosecutions will only be initiated if the officer reasonably believes that the fugitive or perpetrators have committed a felony.” Asked if the officer violated this law, a spokesman for the BBPD said: “The investigation into this crash is underway.”

A community handles anger and grief

Hunter said she is “angry” at the police department and city officials over the death of her granddaughter.

She said he had been harassed by police all his life and she believes he was attacked because he is black.

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

“We have no calls for service, incident reports, traffic referrals or citizen complaints to substantiate the allegation referred to below,” a police department spokesman told ABC News regarding Hunter’s allegation. “We recognize that there is tension in the community around how this happened, and we believe that an objective and impartial investigation by the Florida Highway Patrol will help build confidence in the outcome, no matter which path it takes.”

Davis played football for the Boynton Beach Bulldogs, and according to his head coach Jermaine Horne, he had been a part of the league since he was about 6 years old.

Horne told ABC News in a phone interview Wednesday that Davis’ death has taken an emotional toll on his teammates, who attended a vigil on Monday to honor his memory.

“At the moment, it’s like a numbness,” he said. “Every day we get closer to accepting that it’s a reality, but right now we can not believe it.”

He remembered Davis, known by his teammates as “SJ,” as a “good kid” who had a “radiant smile.”

“His father – he always tells him that it was important to be a good man and a good person,” he said. “His mother and his father, they did a great job with him.”

Rodney Atwaters, who also coached Davis, said “many children are just hurt” after his death.

He said Davis was a “dedicated” football player who wanted to make his coaches and his parents proud.

“I’m thinking what [the kids] should learn from Stanley is what a pleasant kid he was, “said Atwaters.” He was very respectful no matter what – not just for us adults, but for all the kids, all the teammates … he brought joy to everyone. “

“Bikes Up for SJ,” an event to honor Davis’ memory, is set to take place in Boynton Beach on Saturday.

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