Earlier this month, a federal jury awarded a 22-year-old black man $23.1
million after he was shot and paralyzed from the waist down by a sheriff’s
deputy while unarmed. However, because of a $200,000 state cap for jury
awards, the issue must now receive the approval of the Florida Legislature,
a process which could potentially take years.
According to the lawsuit, Dontrell Stephens was approached by Sergeant
Adams Lin of the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office after he was
caught riding his bicycle into traffic in September 2013. Mr. Lin testified
that he shot the man four times after he allegedly reached for his waistband
and flashed an object that Lin thought may have been a gun. Stephens claims
that he was raising his hands when the officer opened fire. The dashboard
camera in Lin’s patrol car showed that Stephens’ left hand
was empty and that his right hand was gripping a cell phone. The video
suggests that the officer already had his gun pointed at Stephens because
he could not have seen the cell phone, mistaken it as a weapon, and drawn
and fired his own weapon in the two seconds that Stephens was out of view
of the camera.
The jury rejected Lin’s claim that he made an “objectively
reasonable mistake” in shooting Stephens, and that his actions constituted
excessive force. Stephens was shot twice in the arm, once in his chest, and once in the
back, which hit and severed his spine and left him a paraplegic. The money
from this award would go towards a lifetime of medical care for Stephens,
who now suffers from deep and infectious bed sores that have the potential
to kill him.
An appeal is expected. For further information on this story, visit Fox
News online to view “Florida man shot, paralyzed by deputy awarded $23.1M.”
The Russell Friedman Law Group, LLP represents victims of police brutality
in New York and New Jersey. If you need legal guidance, feel free to
contact our attorneys today.