ST. PETERSBURG — The International People's Democratic Uhuru Movement held a news conference Monday where a former Pinellas Sheriff candidate and two candidates in the upcoming St. Petersburg elections blamed deputies' tactics for the deaths of three teens who died in a fiery crash on Sunday.
Jesse Nevel, a mayoral candidate who is affiliated with the Uhuru movement, called the deaths of Jimmie Goshey, Dejarae Thomas, and Keontae Brown, a "state sanctioned lynching" and criticized Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieri's remarks following the crash.
"Within hours of their deaths, Gualtieri held a press conference. We were told that the three boys had extremely extensive criminal records," he said. "Without a shred of evidence," Nevel added, the sheriff attributed recent burglaries in North Pinellas to the boys.
Penny Hess of African People's Solidarity Committee said she denounced "these ongoing murders and criminalization of black children."
James McLynas, who ran for sheriff last year and has been a fervent critic of Gualtieri for years, criticized the Sheriff's Office pursuit tactics. According to agency policy, deputies must have their emergency lights on when they're on a pursuit. But McLynas raised questions about deputies skirting that rule by leaving their lights off when following a suspect.
On Sunday, Gualtieri said the deputies were not engaged in a pursuit.
"The deputy said that that car was going 100 mph," McLynas said. "My question is how did he know that unless he was there to witness it?"