A federal court jury found the St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office 1% liable in the January 2014 killing of Gregory Hill Jr. while he stood in his garage.
It took 4 days of testimony, evidence and attorneys’ arguments, and about 10 hours of jury deliberation before they found St. Lucie County Sheriff Ken Mascara, in his official capacity, was negligent but was only 1% liable because the victim was intoxicated, reported TCPalm.
The jury decided that 30-year-old Hill “was under the influence of alcoholic beverages to the extent that his normal faculties were impaired and that as a result of the influence of such alcoholic beverage,” he was 99% liable for the “incident and his resulting injuries.”
As we normally see when officers kill someone, Deputy Christopher Newman was found not liable for his actions.
The jury awarded $4 in damages — $1 each to Hill’s mother (for funeral expenses) and his 3 children for loss of parental companionship, instruction, guidance, mental pain and suffering.
Because the jury decided the sheriff was only 1% liable, the Sheriff’s Office will only be paying 4 cents.
The lawsuit alleged negligence and municipal liability against Sheriff Mascara and claimed Newman violated her son’s Fourth Amendment right to be free from excessive force resulting in a wrongful death.
Newman and his partner, Deputy Edward Lopez, were at Hill’s home because of a loud music complaint.
Upon arriving, they knocked on the garage door, but no one responded. Newman then knocked on the front door, and no one answered, but Hill did raise the garage door at that point.
Hill was near the door with “his left hand on the door and his right hand down.”
Newman decided to draw his gun, as the garage door started to go down again, and fired 4 times at the man who was standing in his garage.
A SWAT team arrived and entered the garage to find Hill dead with 3 gunshot wounds. An unloaded gun was found in Hill’s back pocket.
A toxicology report stated that Hill had a .4% blood-alcohol level, far above the legal driving limit. However, Hill was not driving, he was listening to music in his own garage.