Three teenage girls drowned after they drove a stolen car into a cemetery pond, and new dash cam footage is raising questions for some about whether Florida police stood by and did nothing as it happened.
The three girls, 16-year-old Dominique Battle, 15-year-old Ashaunti Butler, and 15-year-old Laniya Miller, died on March 31. Previously, the sheriff said that the officers removed their gun belts and waded into the water to save the girls, but some believe the dash cam footage tells a different story.
Michele Whitfield, the attorney representing one of the teen’s mother had said earlier in the month, “At this point we’re seeking answers for Laniya’s mother. There’s inconsistencies that need to be addressed.”
In the video, the deputies can be heard standing by their cruiser as one says, “I hear them yelling, I think!”
“They’re done. They are 6-7, dude,” says another.
“They were yelling,” a deputy says. “I thought I heard yelling.”
The deputy then replies, “But now, they’re done. They’re done.”
Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri held a press conference shortly after the incident in which he detailed the girls’ history of stealing cars before stating that the officers could not have reached the drowning teens.
“Deputies wading out into the water were just sinking (into the muck) and couldn’t get to the car,” the sheriff said.
“Once the car filled up with water, it went down pretty quickly. There was nothing deputies could do. As thick as that muck is in the pond, it is almost like a carpet. The doors were closed, the windows were up and unfortunately it just became a death chamber. They drowned, they just couldn’t get out.”