In Sept. 2013, Dontrell Stephens was shot four times by a West Palm Beach, Fla., sheriff’s deputy, allegedly for running away from law enforcement. But newly released dashcam footageof the shooting, which left Stephens paralyzed from the waist down, shows he was just riding his bike and talking on his cell phone when cops started following him.
At the time, Sheriff Ric Bradshaw defended the shooting, saying, “Stop what you’re doing and comply with us. There’s nothing in the rules of engagement that says we have to put our lives in jeopardy to wait to find out what this is to get killed.”
Here’s the news coverage from the day of the shooting, focusing on the neighborhood’s high crime rate, some marijuana Stephens had on him, and his previous arrest for cocaine possession:
Adams Lin, the deputy who shot Stephens four times, claimed the unarmed man had reached for a dark object in his pants. The dashcam video doesn’t show Stephens reaching for his pockets, just holding up the phone he was carrying the entire time.
Lin was allowed to return to duty four days later. The shooting was eventually ruled “justified.”
The dashcam video emerged as part of a lawsuit against the Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office, and was first made public by WPTV and the Palm Beach Post.
“There are no records of any commands ever made to Dontrell Stephens,” said Jack Scarola, the lawyer suing the department on Stephens’ behalf, “The deputy’s recorded statements following the shooting were absolutely false. Internal affairs completely ignored that evidence.”