By Sean Boone
It started as a few dozen young adults outraged over the death of 17-year-old Victor Steen.
But by the end of the informal meeting held at The End of The Line Cafe on Wednesday evening, an organized group had emerged–ready to speak out against what many believe was an act of police negligence.
On Thursday at 5 p.m., the group plans to ride bicycles to the Pensacola Police Department to protest the death of Steen, who was fatally injured by a police cruiser last Saturday morning.
The group then plans to ride to City Hall to speak before City Council at 7 p.m.
Officer Jerald Ard, a four-year veteran of the PPD, ran Steed over with his vehicle after attempting to stop him for questioning.
The department reports that Ard noticed Steed suspiciously riding his bicycle around a construction site near the T Street and Cervantes area of Brownsville. After trying to verbally stop Steed for questioning to no avail, he then attempted to subdue him with a Taser while still driving his vehicle near the sidewalk Steed was on–causing the teenager to fall into Ard’s path and ultimately killing him.
Two witnesses of the incident–who were outside Sluggo’s Vegan restaurant–attended the gathering Wednesday.
They say the police report differs from what really happened.
“He didn’t look like he (was attempting to run from Ard),” says Rachel Moore, 25. “He wasn’t hauling on his bike.”
Moore says when Steen was hit he was nearly 20 feet from his bicycle. She also says she called 911 and was transferred numerous times before getting emergency assistance.
Steen’s body was not immediately moved from underneath the vehicle. Numerous witnesses say he remained untouched for hours.
Andrew Torres, 23, described Steen as being down on one knee when he was ran over.
“The cop actually accelerated, he says. “He didn’t make any attempt to slow down (and avoid hitting him).
“It was not an accident.”
The PPD said in a press release today that it was still working with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the Florida Highway Patrol to investigate the incident.
The FDLE has previously stated it may take weeks before its investigation is concluded.