High profile attorney Barry Cohen is asking for the public's help for clues in Andrew Joseph's death
St. Petersburg, Florida - Just one day shy of his 15th birthday on February 7th of last year, Andrew Joseph III was kicked out of the Florida State Fair for disorderly conduct. A few hours later for some reason Florida Highway Patrol say the boy his friends and family called "Peewee", tried to dash across several lanes of traffic along interstate 4 just west of Highway 301.
That's where he was hit by an SUV around 10:46 p.m. and was killed.
Joseph's friends and family say he had no reason to cross the interstate to head to an industrial side of town because his home is located miles away in a Riverview neighborhood.
After talking with their son's friends and witnesses Andrew's parents are now sharing what they've learned about what happened to their only son the last moments of his life.
Andrew's mother, Deanna, says "People will tell me that it was just his time and I say 'no it was not his time; it was a chain of events and it was people's hands who created this time frame for him.'"
Deanna and her husband have questions about the time frame in which their son died. They say Andrew should have never been ejected from the fair which was shut down around 10 p.m.
They say he wasn't a part of the "wilding" chaos that led to 99 people being kicked out on student day. "Wilding" is where people run and throw things in the midway. Andrew's parents say the 8th grade honor roll student and star football player was only rounded up with a group to be ejected when he saw a buddy being held and went over to try to check on him.
Colonel Jim Previtera with the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office has said innocent fair goers were knocked to the ground after fights broke out. He says, "We had one deputy who was pulling off one kid and got attacked from another kid. They were stealing candy apples from [there] and throwing them at our deputies."
His family has now hired high profile attorney Barry Cohen. Cohen says, "My responsibility is going to be to see that justice is obtained." When asked if Cohen plans to sue the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office he said, "Well we're going to be going where the facts take us. I'm not making any conclusions right now."
At issue, they say, is the fact that deputies took Andrew's information but never called his parents or instructed Andrew to call home. There are also questions over whether Andrew was handcuffed and detained, threatened with a taser, or chased. Colonel Jim Previtera has denied those allegations.
Cohen says, "I'm asking for everyone who knew something - who saw something - who heard something - that we could put this puzzle together."
Meanwhile the family also wants the Hillsborough County School District to rethink "Fair Day" for students.
Andrew Joseph Jr. says, "You can't go to Chuck E. Cheese without your parent. You can't get a cookie from Publix without your parent. This is common sense. This is 101."
They're concerned that "Fair Day" happens on a weekday. Schools dole out free fair tickets to all students encouraging them to attend even though many parents are working and cannot chaperon their kids. He says if parents were able to come perhaps on a weekend that would likely cut down on "wilding" once and for all.
The fair has made some changes like tighter security. For kids with those free student tickets, they will have to be with an adult to get in after 7 p.m.
Meanwhile, the sheriff's office has said they will not change the way they handle ejections.
Joseph was buried in his cap and gown.
He was gearing up to graduate from the 8th grade from St. Stephen Catholic School. His parents say he'd been checking the mailbox daily to learn whether he'd been accepted to Tampa Catholic High School. His parents say one week after he died his letter of acceptance arrived.