11:58, June 01 92 0 abajournal.com

2018-06-01 11:58:08
$4 award to family of black man fatally shot by cop is reduced to 0

Florida jurors awarded $4 last week to the family of a black man shot and killed in his garage by police who were called to the home to investigate a noise complaint.

The $4 award to the family of the slain man, Gregory Vaughn Hill Jr. of Fort Pierce, consisted of $1 for funeral expenses, and $1 each to his three children, report the New York Times, TCPalm.com, News3, Fox2Now and CNN.

Police were called because of a complaint about loud, obscene music coming from the home as students were being let out of elementary school. Police encountered Hill in his garage and said he was holding a gun. As the garage door began to close, a white officer fired four times.

A SWAT team called to the home cut a hole in the garage door and sent a robot to investigate. Hill was dead. An unloaded gun was in Hill’s back pocket.

Jurors found the officer who fired the gun did not use excessive force, but St. Lucie County Sheriff Ken Mascara was 1 percent negligent.

Jurors found that Hill was 99 percent liable for the incident, which would reduce the award to 4 cents under Florida’s comparative negligence law. But family members will receive nothing because of another Florida law that bars any recovery for plaintiffs who are more than 50 percent at fault due to intoxication.

Hill had a blood alcohol level of nearly 0.40 percent.

The lawyer for Hill’s family, John Phillips, told News 3 he found the verdict “perplexing,” but court rules prevent him from questioning jurors to learn more. The jury consisted of one black man, two white men and five white women.

“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 News 3.

Phillips plans an appeal. One issue will be the “evasiveness” of a police expert who claimed to be hard of hearing during Phillips’ questions. Another issue is conflicting police testimony about the gun, he said. Phillips also says the defense improperly mentioned that Hill was on probation for drug possession.