She Died Stealing A Car, And Somehow the Parents Are Blaming the Cops!

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Deputies were blamed for the death of three teens who stole a car and drowned in a pond, according to their families, the police did nothing to save them.

Dominique Battle, 16, Ashaunti Butler, 15, and Laniya Miller, 15 are said to have stolen a gold Honda Accord from a supermarket parking lot on March 30. They had seven arrests on record for crimes that included vehicle thefts.

According to a report by the Tampa Bay Times, “Though the county sheriff’s rules forbid deputies from chasing stolen vehicles, some officers were trailing the car when the car plunged into a pond off a sharp turn in the road around 4 a.m. the next morning.”

The incident started around 4 a.m. that morning, a deputy saw a stolen 1998 Honda Accord driving near St. Petersburg without headlights on. While trying to evade the deputy, the driver reportedly missed a sharp turn and the car went into a pond.

According to reports, the deputies originally thought the girls escaped and ran away as the car sank in 15 feet of water.

After realizing the girls were inside, the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office said deputies went into the water and attempted to save the girls. Their feet sank upon entering the pond, and they deemed the rescue to be too risky. With windows rolled up and doors closed, Fox reports that the sheriff, Bob Gualtieri, said the car was a “death chamber.”

Lawyers representing the families of the girls claim that the accounts by the sheriff’s office are full of holes and a “smear campaign” against the girls due to discussions of their past records following their deaths. In response to claims of inconsistencies in the story, the office released more footage on Facebook.

In the video below, which is dense in quality due to the time of day and the location, we can clearly hear the officers, one in particular, describing what he is seeing.

Sheriff Bob Gualtieri stood by his deputies’ actions, saying they did everything right.

“I’m not going to stand by and let these people cast a false narrative,” he said. “They’re reaching, and they want to be spin masters.”

Gualtieri also pointed out the teens’ criminal histories, which included seven arrests among them for grand theft auto. In a subsequent news conference, attorneys Michele Whitfield and Will Anderson said the sheriff misrepresented Miller’s criminal history, and that Marriott’s story was not thoroughly investigated.

The lawyers were hired by Miller’s mother, Natasha Winkler, who said her daughter was a beautiful person and dreamed of working as a lawyer one day.

Deputies went to the home of Kristine Hayes, Miller’s grandmother, who had legal guardianship of the teen, on the morning of March 31. Upon hearing what had happened, Hayes was “extremely emotional and visibly shaken,” investigative documents say.

Battle’s mother, Yashica Clemmons, was told of her daughter’s death at noon on March 31, when deputies went to a Taco Bell restaurant in South Pasadena where she worked. Clemmons was able to identify her daughter, describing a tattoo of Clemmon’s name on her thigh, and became “extremely distraught and began crying and screaming,” when told Dominique had died, documents say.

Because none of the girls was wearing a seat belt, Gualtieri said investigators could not determine who was driving the car, but investigative documents identify Dominique as the possible driver; her body was the only one found in the front seat.

Sheriff’s officials released the crash report and in-car video of the initial fleeing and eluding incident in Clearwater, followed by the second incident that began at U.S. 19 and Ulmerton Road and ended at the cemetery. Dive team logs, patrol radio transmissions, reports from on-scene investigators, and the stolen vehicle incident report taken by the St. Petersburg Police also were released.

According to Opposing Views, despite the footage, the Sheriff’s office insisted that their officers did everything they could to rescue the teens and that “just because it’s not on cam doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.”

Watch the video below for more details:

Sources: OpposingViews, Tampa Bay TimesABC News