A Florida sheriff has been ordered by a jury to pay $15 million to the parents of Andrew Joseph III, a teen who died while crossing a highway after deputies kicked him out of a state fair, according to The Associated Press. Joseph’s family attorney said Andrew should’ve never been put in such a “vulnerable situation.”
In February 2014, Joseph went to Student Day at the state fair when deputies arrived in response to a disturbance. The former deputy claimed a group of kids were “wilding,” stealing from vendors and damaging stands, per Tampa Bay Times. Multiple teens were detained including a few of Joseph’s friends. When he tried to hand one of them their hat, he was also detained.
After being released from the processing area, he and another 12-year-old boy were threatened not to exit through the fair. The only other way to the main gate was across the interstate.
More on the case from Tampa Bay Times:
They walked back to Orient Road, then went north and through the Hard Rock Casino before they ended up trying to cross the busy highway to reach the fairgrounds.
They made it across, but then Andrew Joseph said they needed to go back. As he dashed back toward the casino, the teen was struck and killed.
The verdict Thursday punctuated more than six years of civil litigation in which attorneys for the 14-year-old’s parents argued that sheriff’s deputies violated their son’s rights by detaining and ejecting him from the Florida State Fair and ultimately set in motion the events that led him to be struck by an SUV on Interstate 4.
The jury concluded the Hillsborough County Police Department was 90 percent responsible for the incident and Joseph, 10 percent, per AP News. The $15 million Sheriff Chad Chronister owes to Joseph’s parents will be split evenly between the two.
Another settlement agreement remains between Joseph’a family and the Florida State Fair Authority, the Times report says. The sheriff and Cpl. Mark Clark are the remaining defendants. Accountability for the obvious negligence by police continues to be met with multi-million dollar settlements. However, burdening taxpayers doesn’t do much to address the root of the issue: racism.
“If they were found to have acted in bad faith- violating someone’s rights- possibly ending in death, they actually have to be held personally responsible just like anyone else who violated their policies and their obligations at their workplace,” said Colorado Rep. Leslie Herod via NPR.