A Florida family is devastated after a jury awarded them only $4 in damages on Thursday for funeral arrangements and pain and suffering for the fatal shooting of a Black father of three in his own garage.
In 2014, Deputy Christopher Newman of the St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Department shot Gregory Hill Jr., 30, three times through his garage door after a mother picking up her child at a school across the street reported a noise complaint, reported CNN.
When Newman and another deputy responded to Hill's home, Hill partially opened the garage door then closed it. This prompted Newman to fire his gun four times, hitting Hill three times. One of the bullets hit Hill in the head, according to court and police records.
Newman claimed he fired at Hill because he waved a handgun. When a SWAT team arrived soon after and went inside the garage, it confirmed that Hill had a gun in his back pocket.
While no charges were filed, Hill's mother, Viola Bryant, filed a lawsuit against Newman and Sheriff Ken Mascara. In her suit, Bryant alleged Hill suffered a wrongful death, negligence, excessive force and violations of his 14th and 15th Amendment rights.
Bryant also accused a SWAT team of using so much tear gas, that it caused damage to Hill's one-story home.
Last week, a jury, which only deliberated for 10 hours, found that Newman was not liable in Hill's death and that Mascara was one percent liable. They determined that Hill was 99 percent responsible for his own death because alcohol was found in his system, according to court documents.
In deciding damages in the case, the jury awarded Bryant $1 for funeral expenses, and $1 for each child's "loss of parental companionship, instruction, and guidance and ... mental pain and suffering," verdict forms show.
Hill's children are 7, 10 and 13.
Attorney John Phillips, who represents Hill's family, called the ruling "perplexing" and questioned why the jury would award $1 for $11,000 in funeral expenses and $1 for children who will never see their father again.
"That a Black child's pain is only worth a dollar is exactly the problem with the plight of the African-American right now. This says Black lives don't matter," he told reporters.
Phillips plans to file a motion for a new trial in U.S. District Court, and if that's denied, he will take it to the U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals.
He said he will be filing his motion for a new trial in the same federal court in coming weeks.
"This one'll haunt me for a long time if we can't get it reversed," he added.
(Photo: St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Department)
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