Disturbing video of a Florida sheriff’s deputy shooting a then 20-year-old in the back after he reportedly mistook the man’s phone for a gun has emerged, prompting more questions and backlash of police tactics nationwide.
The man, Dontrell Stephens, was riding his bike in a South Florida neighborhood when Adam Lin, a Palm Beach County Sheriff’s deputy, drove over a grass lawn to use a commonly known and controversial practice known as “Stop-and-Frisk” on the young man, the NY Daily News reports.
Lin maintained that Stephens had something in his hand that looked like a gun, causing him to chase and shoot. Stephens was left paralyzed from the waist down.
Stephens was actually holding a cell phone, the News writes. A federal suit, which prompted the release of the Sept. 13, 2013 video, claims Lin shot Stephens four times within seconds of exiting his vehicle.
The suit also claims Lin made zero commands for Stephens to stop before he opened fire.
From the NY Daily News:
“There are no records of any commands ever made to Dontrell Stephens,” West Palm Beach attorney Jack Scarola, who is suing PBSO, told WPTV. “The deputy’s recorded statements following the shooting were absolutely false,” Scarola said. “Internal affairs completely ignored that evidence.”
Lin returned to work four days after the shooting and the state attorney’s office called the shooting justified.
“If they don’t (comply) and they have something in their hands and they’re going to make a move towards the deputy, they’re going to defend themselves,” Sheriff Ric Bradshaw said in the wake of the incident. “Stop what you’re doing and comply with us,” Bradshaw added. “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.”
According to the news site, Stephens had previous arrests for drug possession, but the suit says Lin had no reason to stop him. On the newly released video, Lin can be heard telling another deputy that Stephens started “backing away.”
“I said, ‘Get on the ground, get on the ground,” Lin says on the video.” The unnamed deputy replies, “I got your back. Hey, you hear me?”
The Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office isn’t commenting on the suit, the News reports.
SOURCE: NY Daily News | VIDEO SOURCE: NDN