A Florida jury has awarded a grieving family US$4 for funeral expenses and pain and suffering in a wrongful death lawsuit.
On Jan. 14, 2014, Gregory Vaughn Hill Jr., a 30-year-old African American and father of three, was fatally shot by a sheriff’s deputy in St. Lucie County, Fla. The deputy was responding to a noise complaint about music coming from Hill’s garage.
Hill was in the garage when the police showed up, according to The New York Times. Police then knocked on the garage door, Hill raised it but then closed it after seeing the police, the media outlet reported.
An officer then shot through the garage door four-times as it closed, hitting Hill once in the head and twice in the abdomen.
Officers claimed that Hill was armed at the time of the shooting. A gun was recovered from the scene in Hill’s back pocket, but it was unloaded.
In 2016, Hill’s mother filed a wrongful death lawsuit, claiming the deputy had violated Hill’s constitutional rights. The case also asked the jury to determine if the family was owed any damages, and if so, what about they should receive, according to The New York Times.
After hours of deliberations, the jury determined US$4 was the right amount. One dollar went to Hill’s mother for funeral costs and then $1 each went to each of Hill’s three children (who are ages seven, 10 and 13).
The jury found no excessive force was used and Hill was 99 per cent responsible for his own death because he was intoxicated at the time, meaning the sheriff’s department was only required to pay one per cent of the damages, court documents show.
Because of that, the verdict was then reduced to four U.S. cents, according to court documents.
“It’s heartbreaking,” Hill’s fiancée, Monique Davis, told The New York Times. “There are a lot of questions I want to ask.”
“I think they were trying to insult the case,” the family’s lawyer, John Phillips, said on Thursday. “Why go there with the US$1? That was the hurtful part.”
Phillips set up a GoFundMe in the hopes of raising money for Hill’s children and to cover repairs for home damages caused.
The US$4 payment will likely be reduced to zero by a court, according to Phillips.