A South Florida deputy who left a man paralyzed after confusing a cell phone for a gun had his personal items seized Saturday, including his car, clothes, television, furniture, golf clubs, fishing rods and computer, after his agency refused to pay the victim $200,000 – a fraction of the $22.4 million a federal jury awarded him last year.
Federal marshalls seized Palm Beach County sheriff’s deputy Adams Lin under court order after Sheriff Ric Bradshaw refused to pay a dime towards the settlement.
According to the South Florida Sun Sentinel.
Lin read the court order, became visibly shaken, and fainted, collapsing to the ground, Scarola said.
Paramedics were called and when Lin recovered, he sat on a sheriff’s squad car and watched movers load up his belongings and “empty out virtually everything,” Scarola said.
Left behind: anything obviously belonging to his daughter, Scarola said.
Among the items taken: his car, couch, coffee tables, end tables, lamps, his collection of Samurai swords, flatscreen TV, iron, ironing board, computer, golf clubs, bicycle, tools, and almost all of his non-Sheriff’s Office clothing, Scarola said.
“I don’t think we took any shoes and I don’t think we took any underwear,” Scarola said. But “shirts and pants and shorts are all gone, jackets.”
“We left behind cups and saucers and dishes,” he said. “There’s nothing of any significant value in those.”
The shooting took place on September 13, 2013 after Lin spotted 19-year-old Dontrell Stephens riding his bicycle in what he described as a “high-crime area,” which was Stephen’s poverty-stricken neighborhood.
Lin also said Stephens rode his bike from the left side of a residential street to the right side of the street without using a marked crosswalk, which made him even more suspicious.
Dash cam video from Lin’s patrol car shows Stephens step off his bicycle with a cell phone in his hand after the deputy pulled up behind him.
Stephens then steps out of frame for a few seconds, which was when Lin opened fire on him, shooting him four times, claiming he was in fear for his life because the teen was “reaching for his waistband.”
“There’s nothing in the rules of engagement that says we have to put our lives in jeopardy to wait and find out what this is and get killed,” Palm Beach County Sheriff Ric Bradshaw told reporters the day of the shooting.
But that was before the video was released, which showed the only person whose life was in jeopardy was Stephens.
Lin, of course, was cleared of any wrongdoing, and was promoted to sergeant after the shooting. And Stephens, who was then confined to a wheelchair, filed a federal lawsuit.
In February 2016, a federal jury watched the video and deliberated for three-and-a-half hours before awarding Stephens $22.4 million.
However, because Florida law places a $200,000 cap on such settlements, the matter needed to go before the legislature before Stephens could be awarded the full amount.
But because that may never happen, Stephen’s attorneys asked Sheriff Bradshaw to pay $200,000 towards the settlement, but the sheriff refused, filing an appeal.
A magistrate judge upheld the verdict in May 2016, but the sheriff only vowed to appeal the verdict to a higher court, according to the Palm Beach Post.
A federal magistrate on Wednesday upheld a $22.4 million verdict against the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office in a 2013 shooting that left a 22-year-old West Palm Beach man paralyzed from the waist down.
In a 40-page opinion, U.S. Magistrate Barry Seltzer rejected claims by the sheriff’s office that the February verdict was so excessive that it “shocked the conscience of the court.”
Comparing it to other jury verdicts in cases where people were left paralyzed by the fault of the others, Seltzer found that the amount was reasonable.
“Stephens lost use of his lower extremities, lost control of his bowel, lost control of his bladder, lost his sexual function and suffers constant and severe pain,” Seltzer wrote. Further, given his young age and his life expectancy, Stephens will have to live in that condition for more than 50 years.
Quoting a decision in another case, Seltzer wrote: “Put simply, the enormity of the award is matched by the enormity of the plaintiff’s damages.”
In addition to refusing to award Stephens less money, Seltzer turned down the sheriff’s request for a new trial.
Because the sheriff did not want to pay Stephens anything, the judge allowed federal marshals to seize his personal belongings to auction them off to help pay for the victim’s medical and living expenses.
Stephens’ attorney tried to garner the deputy’s wages, but because more than 50 percent of his salary goes towards his daughter, he is exempt from having his salary garnished.