Florida jury spitefully awards Black children $4 for father’s death by cops, attorney says
In 2014, Gregory Hill, a 30 year old Black man, was shot three times and killed by police in his Florida garage after complaints of loud music. To add insult to injury, last week, a federal jury awarded his family a $4 verdict in their civil case.
Deputy Sheriff Christopher Newman and Deputy Edward Lopez came to Hill’s house on January 14, 2014, after they received a loud noise complaint. According to reports, the officers pounded on the door at 3 p.m. Hill opened his garage door and then quickly began to close it, at which point Newman fired four shots with three hitting Hill. One shot hit his head, killing him instantly.
Deputies state Hill was holding a gun. However, Hill’s 9 year old daughter says her father was not holding a weapon. Later, investigators found an unloaded gun in Hill’s back pocket.
John Phillips, the attorney representing Hill’s three children against the St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office, says the verdict was “punitive.” He shares, “Some jurors were determined to punish the family for being in court.”
Phillips tells CBS News that the federal jury concluded that Hill, who was intoxicated when deputy police killed him, was “99 percent responsible for his own death” and that the County Sheriff’s Office is “1 percent at fault.”
The jury deliberated over the case over a 10 hour period over two days. They awarded Gregory Hill’s children $4-$1 for funeral expenses and $1 for each of his kids. The family was seeking a financial amount between $500,000 to $10 million for funeral and living expenses.
Phillips shares, “The jury said they couldn’t reach a verdict after 8 hours and then reached one which valued a child’s pain and suffering at $1. Either that is punitive or this family’s lives were virtually worthless. $0 would have been better.”
Help us tell his story. Help us help his kids who the jury awarded $1 to. His daughter saw everything from across the street. Police have repeatedly changed their story. https://t.co/lC51NZiJFF
— John M. Phillips (@JohnPhillips) May 31, 2018
The Sheriff’s Office said in a statement, “We are pleased to see this difficult and tragic incident come to a conclusion. Deputy Newman was placed in a very difficult situation, and like so many fellow law enforcement officers must do every day, he made the best decision he could for the safety of his partner, himself, and the public given the circumstances he faced. We appreciate the jury’s time and understanding and wish everyone involved in this case the best as they move forward.”
Many are outraged that the Gregory Hill case is another example of Black people getting killed by police with no accountability. The family is planning to appeal the verdict.