Newly released dash-cam video has resulted in a lawsuit for one unarmed black man who was shot four times in the back by a Palm Beach sheriff’s deputy in Florida in September 2013, WPTV reports.
Dontrell Stephens is seen riding his bike and talking on his phone that fateful Friday morning when, realizing that he’s being followed by officers, he pulls over, gets off his bike with his cellphone in his hand and begins to walk toward a deputy. He steps out of frame for a few seconds before he is seen fleeing, only to crumple to the ground as gunshots are fired.
According to the news station, the video is now part of a joint investigation into shootings by officers at the Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office, released as part of a federal wrongful death lawsuit filed against the department.
Attorney Jack Scarola, who is suing on behalf of the now paralyzed Stephens, says that he discovered discrepancies in statements by Deputy Andrew Lin, who fired the shots, after viewing the video and audio of the incident.
“He starts backing away,” Lin reportedly said to another deputy after the incident. “I said, ‘Get on the ground, get on the ground.’”
“There are no records of any commands ever made to Dontrell Stephens,” Scarola told the news station. “The deputy’s recorded statements following the shooting were absolutely false. Internal affairs completely ignored that evidence.”
The day of the shooting, Sheriff Ric Bradshaw stood behind his deputy’s actions and urged citizens to comply with law enforcement. “Stop what you’re doing and comply with us,” the sheriff said. “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.”
Read more at WPTV.