A federal court jury has awarded the family of a man who was fatally shot by a Sheriff’s Deputy in the garage of his own home $4 in a wrongful death suit.
Gregory Hill Jr, a 30-year-old black man, was fatally shot by Christopher Newman, a white deputy with the St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office, at his home in Fort Pierce, Florida ,in January 2014 after Newman responded to a noise complaint about loud music, TCPalm.com reported.
St. Lucie County Sheriff Ken Mascara said he was ‘pleased’ to see a ‘difficult and tragic incident come to a conclusion.’ St Lucie County Sheriff’s Office
Newman and his partner, Deputy Edward Lopez, had reportedly knocked on Hill’s garage door to investigate the noise complaint. When the garage door eventually opened, Hill was standing by it with his left hand on the door and his right hand by his side.
It is still unclear what exactly happened in the seconds that unfolded, as Newman drew his gun and fired four times toward Hill as the garage door started to go down.
However, when a SWAT team arrived, they found Hill dead. He had been shot three times, including once in the head.
Toxicology reports had shown Hill had been intoxicated at the time of the incident and the SWAT team found a gun in the 30-year-old’s back pocket, but it was not loaded, TCPalm reported.
On the second anniversary of Hill’s death, the 30-year-old’s mother, Viola Bryant, launched a lawsuit for wrongful death.
Her battle for justice ended last Thursday, when the jury came to the conclusion that Newman had not used excessive force in the incident following 10 hours of deliberation.
The jury did find that St. Lucie County Sheriff Ken Mascara had been negligent in his role, but determined him to be liable by just 1 percent, the New York Times reported.
Hill, the jury said, was responsible for 99 percent of the negligence in the case.
As a result, the jury awarded $4 in damages to Hill’s family, with $1 going towards funeral expenses and $1 going towards each of Hill’s three children for their loss.
The family’s lawyer, John M. Philips told the Times he would have preferred the jury to have found no negligence than award such insignificant damages, calling the award “hurtful.”
“I think they were trying to insult the case,” Philips said. “Why go there with the $1? That was the hurtful part.”
Mascara said that his office was “pleased to see this difficult and tragic incident come to a conclusion,” in a statement posted on Facebook.
“Deputy Newman was placed in a very difficult situation and like so many fellow law enforcement officers must do every day, he made the best decision he could for the safety of his partner, himself and the public given the circumstances he faced,” Mascara said, adding: “We appreciate the jury’s time and understanding.”