A federal jury awarded the family of a Black man, Gregory Hill Jr., who was killed by police, $4, finding the St. Lucie County, Florida’s Sheriff’s Department only partially responsible for his death, The New York Times reports.
The jury deliberated for 10 hours on May 24 saying that Sheriff Ken Mascara was negligent, but only 1 percent liable. He is responsible for paying the family 4 cents.
Hill was shot to death by officers in his garage at his home in Fort Pierce, Fla in 2014. Deputies were responding to a noise complaint when they encountered Hill. He was found dead in his garage with a gun in his back pocket; officers said that he was holding it at the time of his death, according to the Times.
According to the verdict jury form, 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 percent liable for the “incident and his resulting injuries.”
The jury awarded Hill’s mother, Viola Bryant, $1 for funeral expenses and his three children $1 each. The Sheriff’s Office portion may be reduced to nothing because the jury for Hill found him 99 percent at fault.
“I don’t get it,” the family lawyer, John M. Phillips, said.
The St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office posted on Facebook saying that Sheriff Mascara was “pleased to see this difficult and tragic incident come to a conclusion.”
“Deputy Newman was placed in a very difficult situation, and like so many fellow law enforcement officers must do every day, he made the best decision he could for the safety of his partner, himself, and the public given the circumstances he faced,” Mascara said. “We appreciate the jury’s time and understanding.”
The family’s lawyer said that he feels the jury’s amount was disrespectful to the case.
“I think they were trying to insult the case,” Mr. Phillips said of the jury. “Why go there with the $1? That was the hurtful part.”
He said he is drafting a motion for a new trial and if that’s denied then he would begin the appeals process.
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Teddy is a multimedia journalist who serves as the culture and political writer for EBONY. His work has appeared in NBC's Owned and Operated stations, as well as DNAInfo, which covered local neighborhood news in New York City. He received his Masters in Journalism from the Craig Newmark School of Journalism at CUNY in 2017.