Jurors who awarded only 4 cents to the family of a Black man fatally shot in his home by a deputy expressed confusion about the court’s instructions as they struggled to reach a verdict.
Notes sent to the judge show the jurors said they couldn’t reach a unanimous decision before finally finding 30-year-old Gregory Hill Jr. 99 per cent responsible for his death, because he was drunk when a St. Lucie County Sheriff’s deputy shot him.
Hill’s fiancée called the verdict a “slap in the face,” and the family’s lawyer is preparing an appeal, saying he can’t tell whether the jury was angry, or just confused.
Hill was in his garage in the South Florida city of Fort Pierce, listening to loud music when a parent picking a child up from an elementary school across the street called in the complaint in 2014.
According to court documents, deputies responded and Hill eventually raised his garage door to answer them, then lowered it again. A deputy then fired through the door, hitting Hill three times. Deputies testified that they saw Hill holding a weapon. An unloaded gun was found in the dead man’s back pocket.
The sheriff’s office called in a SWAT team, who tear-gassed the home before officers went in and found Hill’s body.
A sheriff’s statement said Deputy Christopher Newman, who fired the fatal shots, 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…
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