A South Florida police officer is under intense scrutiny and the subject of a lawsuit after he paralyzed a young black man by shooting him in the back multiple times because he thought the cell phone in his hand was a gun.
Dontrell Stephens, 20, was reportedly riding his bike in a South Florida neighborhood when Palm Beach County Sheriff’s deputy Adam Lin drove over a grass lawn to use a commonly known and controversial practice known as “Stop-and-Frisk” on the young man.
Lin maintained that Stephens had something in his hand that looked like a gun, causing him to chase and shoot.
It eventually came out that Stephens was actually holding a cell phone, the New York Daily News reported. A federal suit, which prompted the release of the Sept. 13, 2013 video, claims Lin shot Stephens four times within seconds of exiting his vehicle.
The suit also claims Lin made zero commands for Stephens to stop before he opened fire.
“There are no records of any commands ever made to Dontrell Stephens,” West Palm Beach attorney Jack Scarola, who is suing PBSO, told WPTV. “The deputy’s recorded statements following the shooting were absolutely false,” Scarola said. “Internal affairs completely ignored that evidence.”
Lin was allowed to return to duty within a week of the shooting and the state attorney’s office called the shooting justified.
“If they don’t (comply) and they have something in their hands and they’re going to make a move towards the deputy, they’re going to defend themselves,” Sheriff Ric Bradshaw said in the wake of the incident. “Stop what you’re doing and comply with us,” Bradshaw added. “There’s nothing in the rules of engagement that says we have to put our lives in jeopardy to wait to find out what this is to get killed.”
Working against Stephens? He had previous arrests for drug possession, but the suit says Lin had no reason to stop him. On the newly released video, Lin can be heard telling another deputy that Stephens started “backing away.”
“I said, ‘Get on the ground, get on the ground,” Lin says on the video, according to the news station. “The unnamed deputy replies, “I got your back. Hey, you hear me?”
The Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office isn’t commenting on the suit.
Take a look at the news report below:
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