Three teenage girls from Florida died while stealing a man’s car when he gave them a ride (video below). Now, the officers who responded to the incident are under fire for failing to save the girls' lives. The officers' response: Oh, please. We did everything we could to save them. Maybe you should've done a better job.
On March 31, Laniya Miller, 15, Ashaunti Butler, 15, and Dominque Battle, 16, requested a ride from a 36-year-old man. The man accommodated them but stopped at a St. Petersburg Walmart before he could drop them off at their destination.
He left his keys in the Honda Accord when he ran into the store, according to Tampa Bay Times. That’s when the three teens took off on a joyride with his car.
Officers from the Pinellas Sheriff’s Office responded to the man’s call about the auto theft. The cops tracked the Honda, though they were not allowed to chase stolen vehicles per police procedure.
The girls ended up taking a sharp turn and drove into a pond. According to the sheriff’s office, the deputies took off their equipment and attempted to save the girls. But the water was too muddy and swampy for the officers to rescue them.
The three teenagers were pulled out of the pond with the car two hours later. Following the crash, the girls’ parents chastised the police for not saving their daughters from death.
Meanwhile, the police department denies those allegations and said they released footage from a dash cam proving it, which they posted on their Facebook page.
"It's a bunch of junk," the sheriff said Friday of the allegations. "Those deputies went in that water and tried to save those girls at their own peril."
In the video, a few deputies at the scene are conversing about the plunged vehicle as they stand a few feet from the pond.
"It's going all the way down. It's almost fully submerged," one deputy says. "I hear them yelling, I think!"
"They're done. They're done. They are sig 7, dude."
"Sig 7" refers to signal 7, a radio code for "dead person."
"Did you hear yelling? I thought I heard yelling as it was going down," a deputy said.
Although the footage does not show officers shepherding a rescue, or record any exchanges about rescue efforts, it does show some deputies without uniforms or belts on, heading to and from the water.
The lawyer representing the family of two of the girls, Michele Whitfield, said the footage shows "there's more questions that need to be answered."
"I just feel like at this point, the Sheriff is giving an appearance of transparency," she said. "There's still some documents that I am waiting for."