A Black 13-Year-Old Dirt Biker Died After Cops Attempted to Stop Him

More than 1,000 protesters shut down a Florida highway on New Year’s Day over the death of 13-year-old Stanley “SJ” Davis III.

Jan 4 2022, 5:26pm

More than 1,000 protesters shut down a Florida highway on New Year’s Day over the death of a Black boy who crashed his dirt bike after local cops attempted to pull him over, according to local media. 

The family of 13-year-old Stanley “SJ” Davis III has argued that Boynton Beach police are potentially to blame for the teen’s death on Dec. 26, and they’ve retained the famed civil rights attorney Ben Crump in their burgeoning fight for justice.

Advertisement

On the day SJ died, the 7th-grader took a dirt bike he’d received for Christmas to fill up at a gas station, then lost control of the vehicle while driving away, hit the curb of a median, and flew into a One Way sign, according to local media. A police cruiser had been following SJ shortly beforehand, according to surveillance video from the gas station, but footage of the crash has not yet been publicly released. 

SJ’s grandmother, however, told a local NBC affiliate that cops chased the teen “right to his damn grave.”

An error occurred while retrieving the Tweet. It might have been deleted.

Some have also accused the police of using a controversial tactic to try and stop SJ that involves tapping a fleeing vehicle with a police cruiser, causing it to spin out, also called a “PIT maneuver,” according to the South Florida Sun Sentinel. 

"We want to see the body camera footage," Mary Barber-Nelson, described as SJ’s godmother, told The Palm Beach Post. "We need justice and change from the top down in the police department."

Advertisement

There was no dashboard camera in the police cruiser involved in the attempted traffic stop, according to the Palm Beach Post. 

Boynton Beach Police Chief Michael Gregory said he hasn’t seen any evidence suggesting the officer who tried to stop SJ—who hasn’t been publicly named—hit the teen’s dirt bike. The police have also accused Davis, who was wearing a helmet at the time of his death, of driving “recklessly.” 

Nonetheless, the officer involved is on leave, and the Florida Highway Patrol is investigating the crash. The police department is also conducting its own internal investigation, according to ABC News. 

“Our hearts go out to the family members of this young person, and they can trust that we and our law enforcement partners will be conducting a series of thorough and meticulous investigations into the circumstances of what occurred,” Gregory said in a Dec. 26 statement posted to the police department’s website. 

An error occurred while retrieving the Tweet. It might have been deleted.
An error occurred while retrieving the Tweet. It might have been deleted.

Boynton Beach’s mayor, Steven Grant, told CBS12 News that while the police department should not be blamed for the actions of one officer, “the city and police are responsible.” 

Adherents to “bike life” have long said that lack of a safe space and laws against dirt biking endanger both them and their communities by forcing riders to constantly look over their shoulders and watch for police. While riding dirt bikes can certainly be dangerous, the gigantic, growing culture around the beloved sport is unlikely to go away. 

And it’s not unusual for young boys to become enamored with the sport: VICE once profiled Mr.Dirtbike Kid, a young, popular rider out of Los Angeles’ Watts neighborhood, and described him as a “14-year-old street bike prodigy.”

Many involved in the peaceful demonstration Saturday were on dirt bikes themselves. But as is true for most cities, dirt bikes aren’t permitted for street use in Boynton Beach, according to the Palm Beach Post. The dirt bikers there also told local media outlets that they don’t have a legal alternative if they still want to practice the sport they love, regardless of the stigma and nationwide police crackdowns.

“I feel like if the community came together and built a park, or somewhere for people to ride, these hit situations won’t happen,” a friend of SJ, who did not want to be identified, told WPTV, a local NBC affiliate. “If the community came together and tried to understand the culture in Boynton, these situations wouldn't happen.”

Want the best of VICE News straight to your inbox? Sign up here.

Tagged:

police, protest, Florida, Crash, bike life, 8:46 News

More
like this
Cop Tells Black Man He’ll ‘Remove His Fucking Soul’ Before Choking Junior Officer
Cops Forced Sobbing 8-Year-Old Into Cruiser Over a Bag of Stolen Chips
Cop Mistakenly Shot ‘Hero’ Athlete Who Wrestled Ghost Gun Away From Man
Patrick Lyoya Got Pulled Over for His License Plate. The Cop Shot Him in the Head.
College Cop Was Secretly a Racist, Anti-Homeless Reddit Troll for Years
Video Shows Cop Punching Protester During Anti–Police Brutality Protest
A Cop Who Went Viral for Punching a Teen Quietly Got His Job Back
Cops Who Fractured 75-Year-Old Protester’s Skull Cleared of Any Wrongdoing