Here we go again. A police dash cam video was released Thursday showing Dontrell Stephens, 20, being followed by a Palm Beach County, Florida, deputy before he was shot four times and left paralyzed. He was unarmed.
The video was exclusively obtained by WPTV and The Palm Beach Post. The West Palm Beach attorney Jack Scarola is suing the sheriff and deputy for the incident.
On Sept. 13, Dontrell Stephens was minding his business and riding his bicycle when he noticed a police officer's car following him. The dash cam video shows the police car pull over and Stephens gets off his bike and walk towards the deputy. Seconds later Deputy Lin shoots Stephens four times. Stephens could be seen running away as he was struck by the bullets. Stephens was carrying a cellphone.
Reports say Stephens has a criminal record for possessing cocaine, but police officers have not explained why they approached Stephens in this situation.
According to WPTV, county Sheriff Ric Bradshaw defended Lin's actions at a press conference. "Stop what you're doing and comply with us,” he told reporters. "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."
West Palm Beach attorney Jack Scarola said the deputy's account of the incident conflicts with what is shown in the video. "There are no records of any commands ever made to Dontrell Stephens," explained Scarola, according to WPTV.
"The deputy's recorded statements following the shooting were absolutely false. Internal affairs completely ignored that evidence,” he said.
Like the more recent shootings of Walter Scott, Freddie Gray and the countless other victims before them, there continues to be a pattern of inconsistency between what police say happened and what plays back on surveillance footage of these incidents. The relationship between police and communities will continue to suffer until transparency and truthfulness becomes commonplace in these occurrences.
Follow Natelege Whaley on Twitter: @Natelege_
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(Photo: Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office)