Family releases dashcam video, calls for justice in 12-year-old's death following 2021 chase
The family of a 12-year-old boy killed in a PIT maneuver wreck at the end of a chase in 2021 released dashcam video of the pursuit on Wednesday. They are making calls for a special prosecutor in the case, as they hope to see charges for the law enforcement officers who were involved.
Le'Den Boykins was one of two children in the car when the chase was initiated. The car rolled into a ditch upon the PIT maneuver by a Georgia State Patrol trooper.
The driver, Charlie Moore, was ultimately charged with murder in Le'Den's death. Moore is a neighbor of Boykins' parents and was watching Le'Den the night of his death. Moore's own son was the other child in the car as the chase wound through Paulding County.
Boykins' parents have said he "does bear some responsibility" for the incident, but have long wanted to see law enforcement held accountable for the PIT maneuver, as well.
Those wishes were renewed on Wednesday in a press conference at the Georgia Capitol Building in Atlanta.
Georgia NAACP President Gerald Griggs called for Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr to appoint a special prosecutor in lieu of the Paulding County District Attorney's Office not taking action against the trooper or deputies. He's also asking for U.S. Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights in the DOJ, Kristen Clarke, to open up a general inquiry into law enforcement practices in Georgia.
Paulding County's current DA, Matthew Rollins, told 11Alive Wednesday the case against Moore remains active and that, while he can't go into specific details, his office has not been presented with facts or evidence in the case that he believes would warrant charges against the law enforcement agents.
Le'Den's father, Anthony Boykins, said at the press conference he feels the dashcam conclusively proves that the trooper would have known there were children in the car.
"When you see this dashcam footage, rest assured you will all know they knew that there were children in the vehicle," he said.
The children are not visible at any time in the video. The family also pointed to previously-released dispatch audio, which showed Paulding County dispatchers telling deputies during the chase that there were kids in the car and the deputies acknowledging, and accounting for, their presence.
Moore had made the call to Paulding County 911 to tell them children were in the car and that he was "afraid for my life."
It's not clear what, if any, line of communication was open between Paulding County deputies and the GSP trooper for the information to be communicated. The trooper wrote in an incident report that he could not see if anyone was in the back of the car during the initial traffic stop because of window tint.
The dashcam video shows the officer accusing Moore first of driving erratically, then of smelling of alcohol. Moore in turn repeatedly asked what crime he was accused fof and expressed that he wanted to speak to the trooper's supervisor before cooperating.
"Why are you pulling me over?" he asks.
"You were trying to evade me," the trooper responds.
Moore later asks: "You told me I was evading you, what crime did I commit?"
"It's called particular reason to suspect a crime being committed," the trooper says.
"What's the crime?" Moore asks in return.
"You evading," the trooper says. "Evasion is not a crime," Moore says.
"I smell alcohol, how much alcohol have you had?" the trooper then asks.
"Dude I'm on my way home, I haven't had any alcohol," Moore says.
"I'm smelling it," the trooper responds.
"Ok, what you smell is not a crime," Moore says.
At that point in the video, the trooper returns to his vehicle and waits several minutes before the Paulding County deputies arrive.
After again trying to get him to hand over his license, and Moore again asking for a supervisor several times, one of the deputies busts his window open. He veers off, and the law enforcement agents then start the pursuit.
After several minutes of the chase, the GSP trooper performed the PIT maneuver, nudging the back left side of the car and spinning it out into a ditch on the left side of the road.
Moore was denied bond last summer in his case, which includes a slew of charges beyond felony murder - among them first degree homicide by vehicle, aggravated assault on a peace officer and endangering a child while driving under the influence.
His wife, Janetra Moore, earlier last year, described to 11Alive's La'Tasha Given how she was on FaceTime with her son - the surviving child in the car - during the chase.
"I could hear the fear, I could see their faces. They were all scared, really scared. That was tough," Janetra Moore said. "I heard my husband say, 'why are they hitting the car?' and he said that one more time, and the camera just kinda went black, I guess when the car flipped over."
Toni Boykins, Le'Den's mother, said at the bond hearing for Charlie Moore last summer that she wants "the troopers held accountable."
"For them to be holding someone for a murder charge when it could have been de-escalated, and my child would still be here," she said. "Instead, it was escalated and resulted in my child getting killed."
According to GSP, their chase policy does require troopers to evaluate all variables before performing a PIT maneuver, including whether or not there are children in the car.
The trooper, in his incident report, explained his reason for using the controversial PIT maneuver, stating "the longer I waited to end the pursuit, the more the suspect would jeopardize the lives of innocent bystanders on the roadway."
The trooper involved in the crash was placed on administrative leave during an investigation by the GBI, then returned to work early last year. Charlie Moore's trial has been scheduled at least three times, though it has not yet occurred.