A police dashcam video (below) released on April 18 shows some Pinellas County deputies talking to each other as three African-American teen girls drown inside a car in St. Petersburg, Florida, in the early morning hours of March 31.
The video appears to contradict Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri who told a press conference on March 31 how deputies removed their belts and equipment and tried to save the teens, TBNWeekly.com noted.
"Deputies wading out into the water were just sinking [into the muck] and couldn’t get to the car," Gualtieri said at the time.
However, the video shows deputies standing on the shore, calling for backup and watching the vehicle sink into the pond.
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"There's nobody out," one deputy says. "It's sinking still. No, I don't see anybody. It's going down now."
"I hear them yelling, I think," the deputy later adds.
"They’re done," another deputy says. "They’re done, they are 6-7 dude."
"Did you hear yelling?" that deputy states. "I thought I heard them yelling as it was going down, but they're done."
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The teens who were "done" included: Dominique Battle, 16, Ashaunti Butler, 15, and Laniya Miller, 15.
Gualtieri said at his March 31 press conference that Damien L. Marriott, an adult, was giving the girls a ride to a park when he stopped at a Walmart, TBNWeekly.com reported. While Marriott was inside the store, he left the motor running and the girls allegedly took off with his car.
According to Gualtieri, the girls refused to stop during a chase with law enforcement, drove down a dead-end road into a cemetery, and hit the pond.
The car, with the teens inside, drifted about 20 yards into the water and sank within about five minutes, Gualtieri said.
The teens' families have retained a lawyer and are demanding a new investigation of the incident, WFTS reports.
They also said the teens are being portrayed as criminals by the sheriff's office.
"My daughter was not perfect," Natasha Winkle, Laniya's mother, said at a press conference during the week April 11, according to WFTS.
"What 15-year-old is?"
"In my opinion, this has been a rush to judgment," Will Anderson, the family's lawyer, added. "In my opinion, this has been a smear campaign."