Immunity Denied as to Fatal Florida Police Stop

Courthouse News – by DESHAYLA STRACHAN 

     OCALA, Fla. (CN) – A Florida sheriff and two deputies must face claims over the death of a young man who was put in handcuffs and Tasered repeatedly after police shot him in the stomach.

     Vincent Salvato sued Marion County Sheriff Chris Blair and two deputy sheriffs for the death of his 21-year-old unarmed son, Joshua Salvato, on July 6, 2012.  

     U.S. District Judge Kenneth Hodges, who viewed a video recording of the encounter from a squad-car camera, noted in the Monday ruling that the facts are undisputed.

     Deputies Lauren Miley and Norman Brown had stopped Salvato on the street at about 10:45 p.m., while responding to a call about a shirtless man screaming at cars.

     Salvato struggled as the officers tried to handcuff him, and the trio then exchanged blows, some with closed fists. Both deputies were knocked backward, and Miley stood up and fired one shot at the young man, striking his abdomen.

     Though Miley testified that she thought Brown had been injured and could not assist her, and that Salvato was squaring up into a boxer’s stance and starting to charge her again, Judge Hodges said “the video from the dashboard camera does not support this portion of her testimony.”

     “The dashboard camera video clearly shows Joshua retreating backwards,” the 43-page ruling states. “He then steps out of viewing range (all that is viewable is his foot). It is simply not clear whether Joshua was retreating in an attempt to escape, or he had stopped retreating and was preparing to attack the deputies again. What is clear, however, is that eleven seconds elapsed from the time Joshua got up from the ground when the deputies were attempting to handcuff him, and Deputy Miley shot him.”

     As Salvato stood bleeding, Brown got to his feet and pointed his gun at the man. He then holstered his weapon, pulled out his Taser and fired, knocking Salvato to the ground.

     “Deputy Brown testified that he discharged his taser the first time to prevent Joshua from attacking Deputy Miley,” Hodges wrote. “However, at this point in time, Deputy Brown’s patrol car was directly between Joshua and Deputy Miley, so it was not possible for Joshua to reach Deputy Miley.”

     Brown then used his Tasered on Salvato several more times to make him roll over onto his stomach so that Miley could handcuff him.

     “After Joshua had been shot, and was handcuffed and lying on his stomach, Deputy Brown continued to discharge his taser onto Joshua several additional times,” the ruling states. “The records from Deputy Brown’s taser show that it was discharged onto Joshua 12 times or ‘cycles.’ The parties disagree as to how many of the discharges occurred after Joshua was handcuffed, however, there is no dispute that he was tasered at least three more times after he was handcuffed.”

     Though Brown claimed that he was not initially aware that Salvato had been shot, Hodges noted that Brown noticed the gunshot wound after his first use of the Taser sent Salvato to the gorund on his back.

     Miley made no attempt to stop Brown from using the Taser. Neither deputy searched Salvato to see if he had a weapon, the purported reason for why they continued Tasering him. Neither deputy attempted to give Salvato first aid, either.

     Internal bleeding from the gunshot killed Salvato within minutes before paramedics arrived.

     Salvato’s father is alleging excessive force and other civil rights violations, as well as a failure by the sheriff to discipline or properly train the deputies.

     Judge Hodges granted the deputies summary judgment as to their failure to provide medical care, finding that “emergency medical assistance arrived within six minutes; and the court is at a loss to see how they could have arrived any quicker.”

     The officers must face excessive-force claims, however.

     “At the moment he was shot, a reasonable jury could find that he was fleeing,” Hodges wrote. “Moreover, neither Deputy attempted to warn him prior to using deadly force. It was clearly established at the time Joshua was shot that law enforcement officers could not use deadly force on a suspect under these circumstances.”

     As for the claims against Sheriff Blair, the judge said that Salvato’s father may have a case for municipal liability but that all other portions of that Section 1983 claim must be dismissed.

     All three defendants must face wrongful-death claims.

9 thoughts on “Immunity Denied as to Fatal Florida Police Stop

  1. The time for suing is over. When these f**kers come around it’s “shields up” “red alert” and then an eye for an eye. They took somebodies son. They inflicted horror on this young man before they murdered him too. No justice is forthcoming at all and the father has to sue. Sue for what? Dollar bills they print for free day and night? Where is the militia on this one? Even wild animals get more human treatment than this.

      1. So many people keep calling for the militia to do something, but don’t seem to grasp what the militia truly is. YOU are the militia. Every single person is the militia. Even if it is just one person that stands alone against the machine, at that moment that person is the militia.

        The people in the area need to stand up. Everyone in their own areas needs to stand up.

        If the police, politicians, and bankers want to play then stop playing by their rules. They don’t even follow their own rules. Why are you following the rules they place over you?

        It is long past time to keep calling for someone else to save us, and high time we start saving ourselves, one person at a time if that is what it takes.

        1. Thank you, Robert. While I was posting my other comment (below), you took the words right out of my mouth with this one.

  2. “After Joshua had been shot, and was handcuffed and lying on his stomach, Deputy Brown continued to discharge his taser onto Joshua several additional times,”

    That’s all you need to know. Sadistic, cruel, and unusual punishment administered before any trial, by people unauthorized to do so. This is first degree murder, with extreme prejudice.

  3. I keep thinking the lesson here, is: cameras & recorders
    The key of this Judge’s move, is his [summary] “finding of fact”:: “the video from the dashboard camera does not support this portion of her testimony.”
    in legalese; this means shes done testifying – historically this use to carry such great weight, that; it could be even carried over into other cases.
    To not dismiss (personal) liability [immunity denied] against the two individual Deputies is kinda big stuff; as far as Court decisions go.

  4. man that cow i mean female officer cant even bend over to pick up something off the ground. She had to go to he fat knee and struggled to stand back up. lol

    to bad for the guy.

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