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Man Shot by Florida Deputy Awarded $23.1 Million by Jury

February 04, 2016  | 

Dontrell Stephens was on a bicycle when he was stopped by Palm Beach County Sheriff's Deputy Adams Lin. (Photo: Sun-Sentinel video screen shot)
Dontrell Stephens was on a bicycle when he was stopped by Palm Beach County Sheriff's Deputy Adams Lin. (Photo: Sun-Sentinel video screen shot)

A federal jury awarded Dontrell Stephens $23.1 million Wednesday, finding that Palm Beach County Sheriff's deputy Adams Lin acted unreasonably or with excessive force when he shot and paralyzed the unarmed man during a 2013 traffic stop.

Stephens, now 22, has a long road ahead to collect any money. The jury award is more than the state cap of $200,000, so the Florida Legislature must approve the final dollar amount. That process can take years. Additionally, attorneys for the Sheriff's Office indicated before the verdict that they would appeal, the Sun-Sentinel reports.

Lin and both attorneys for the Sheriff's Office declined to comment after the verdict in federal court in Fort Lauderdale. But late Wednesday night, the agency released a statement that called the verdict "both shocking and disappointing." It also confirmed it planned to appeal.

Sheriff's attorney Summer Barranco said Stephens did not respond to Lin's instructions after he was pulled over for a traffic infraction on his bicycle. Stephens testified that he was a "little bit" high and had marijuana in his shoe at the time of the traffic stop.

When Stephens appeared to turn and pull an object from behind him, Lin had reason to believe his life was in danger, she told the jury. As Stephens lay on the ground bleeding, Lin was still searching for the gun he was sure he had seen.

Then, he said he had to "flip a switch" to try to save his life. Using a medical pack from his trunk, he used a pressure dressing on Stephens' wounds. Lin said he and another deputy tried to comfort Stephens, who was calling for help.

Lin testified that he would shoot again in the same circumstances.

The State Attorney's Office has cleared Lin of any criminal wrongdoing in the shooting.

Comments (3)

Displaying 1 - 3 of 3

CM retired @ 2/4/2016 4:18 PM

This is ridiculous. I guess the jury pool thinks it's ok to smoke weed, run from the police and in doing so act like your reaching for a weapon. I hope this stupid verdict is overturned. Let's hope anyone on the jury not need to call 911 soon.

House @ 2/4/2016 5:08 PM

The jury has gotta be from Palm Beach which is almost a complete $#it hole. Its one huge ghetto with people who got nothing better to do but to sit on juries for bs lawsuits. They probably felt bad for the dirtbag and was like...he be such a good boy, just bout to start college n dindu nuffin wrong

Robert @ 2/5/2016 9:13 AM

I tell you what is ridiculous...the taxpayers of Florida having to pay millions in lawsuits, while the police are not held accountable.
The LEO was blatantly not being fully truthful...and the jury saw through this.
First the LEO said the guy pulled a gun from his the LEO say he was flashing his cell phone (which was clearly visible).
Just another white-washing cover up. The jury has found the LEO was wrong and committed a crime (FACT)...but nothing will ever happen to the LEO. No DA will want to anger the LEOs!
Until the LE community is held accountable for their actions, we the taxpayers will continue to suffer.
1. The guy shot is paralyzed, but gets millions of dollars for care.
2. The attorneys make millions.
3. The LEO gets promoted.
4. The taxpayers foot the bill (plus lawyer fees, plus appeal lawyer fees, etc.).
Solution is simple: shoot an unarmed person lose your job. Go become something else, because you are not cut out for this work.

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