The families of three teens who died after driving a stolen car into a river and drowning questioned authorities’ attempts to save them after dash cam footage was released.
The three Tampa, Florida, teens — ages 15 and 16 — reportedly stole a Honda Accord and were chased by police until the car ended up in a pond. The girls ultimately drowned and died, and their families claimed that officers who were on the scene did nothing to try and save them.
“We are in the process of reviewing everything,” the teens’ lawyer, Will Anderson, told ABC News. “In my opinion, this has been a rush to judgment. In my opinion, this has been a smear campaign.”
Sheriff Bob Gualtieri stood by his deputies’ actions, saying they did everything right.
“I’m not going to stand by and let these people cast a false narrative,” he said. “They’re reaching, and they want to be spin masters.”
The pond, Gualtieri said, was “thick with sludge” and difficult for the officers to get into.
Michele Whitfield, an attorney for two of the girls, also said that the dash cam video was questionable and proved that “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 told the Tampa Bay Times. “There’s still some documents that I am waiting for.
In the clip released from dash cam footage, which didn’t show the entire incident, a few deputies are seen talking about the vehicle after it was driven into the river.
“It’s going all the way down. It’s almost fully submerged,” one deputy said in the clip. I hear them yelling, I think!”
“They’re done. They’re done. They are sig seven, dude,” another added, referring to the radio code for “dead person.”
Despite the footage, the Sheriff’s office insisted that their officers did everything they could to rescue the teens and that “just because it’s not on cam doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.”
“This is ridiculous they were doing their job. Maybe if more parents taught their children respect and right from wrong the police wouldn’t have to chase or arrest them,” one Mad World News reader commented on the site’s Facebook page.
“It’s really sad that the police officers are being blamed for this those girls were Reckless and still in the car and driving too fast their parents should have taught him better at home maybe if there was consequences two things they done they wouldn’t have done this so the parents need to point a finger in their own Direction and take the blame for this it’s not the police officers fault,” another added.