Gregory Hill, Jr. was killed in his Florida garage after a police officer opened fire, shooting through the garage door and striking the 30-year-old father three times.
Though no charges were brought against Deputy Christopher Newman, Hill’s mother sued both Newman and Sheriff Ken Mascara, filing a lawsuit alleging wrongful death, negligence, excessive force and violations of Hill's 14th and 15th Amendment rights, according to CNN.
After 10 hours of deliberation last week, a jury found that Newman was not liable in Hill's death and that Mascara was 1% liable. Hill was 99% responsible for his own death, the jury ruled, 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.
Because the jury found that Mascara was only 1% responsible, the verdict was reduced to 4 cents, and then, because the jury found that Hill was drunk at the time, the final payout was nothing.
A mother picking up her child at Frances K. Sweet Elementary School on January 14, 2014 called police to complain about music blaring from Hill’s garage across the street – the song playing was Drake’s “All Me” and riddled with profanity, according to testimony.
City law prohibits "unnecessary noise" and provides that offenders get a warning on the first offense in 24 hours and a citation on the second. A third complaint may result in a misdemeanor charge. This was Hill's first.
Newman and Deputy Edward Lopez arrived and knocked on both the front door of the home as well as the garage door – and from here, the situation went south.
"After Newman knocked on the doors, the garage door opened revealing Hill within the comfort of his own garage and home," the lawsuit alleged. "Upon information and belief, Deputy Lopez indicated loudly that Hill had a gun and then the garage door closed. Despite the door being closed, Newman fired his handgun approximately four times and killed Hill."
The deputies, unaware that Hill was dead inside the garage, called for a SWAT team and snipers, who proceeded to kick in doors, cut holes in the garage door, and shoot tear gas canisters through the home’s windows.
Once inside, officers found Hill dead with an unloaded handgun in his back pocket, not his hand, court records show. Toxicology would later show Hill was intoxicated, to the point he could not legally drive.
Attorney John Phillips, who represents the Hill family, was dumbfounded by the jury’s ruling in this case:
"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 said.
Phillips plans to file a motion for a new trial in US District Court, and if that's denied, he will take it to the US 11th Circuit Court of Appeals.
[One]factor prompting the attorney to seek a new trial is that the defense mentioned Hill was on probation for drug possession, which Phillips feels was meant to vilify Hill, as Newman had no way of knowing this when he responded. Hill's probation was also set to "automatically terminate" 11 days before his shooting, he said.