LOXAHATCHEE GROVES, Fla. — More than a month after the fatal shooting of 24-year-old Seth Adams, his grieving family's unanswered questions include why Palm Beach County Sheriff's Sgt. Michael Custer did not come to his aid, according to the third attorney asked by the family to represent them.
"Why would the officer retreat after shooting the suspect and let the victim/suspect unlock a gate and make it 300-plus feet back toward residence that is on property?" Palm Beach Gardens attorney Brian LaBovick said in an email to The Palm Beach Post Monday. "What was the officer doing in this timeframe that he walked this far and also made two phone calls?"
After he was shot in a parking lot around 11:30 p.m., Adams crawled about 300 feet toward the family's trailer, according to his family. He was flown to St. Mary's Medical Center in West Palm Beach where he was pronounced dead at 1:58 a.m. on May 17.
If the investigation shows that the family is correct in saying that Custer did not render aid to the Loxahatchee Groves man, Custer's actions would be in violation of the sheriff's use of force policy.
"After a deputy has used deadly force on an individual, the deputy will administer First Aid to the injured and call EMS to respond," the use of force policy states.
As the shooting remains under investigation by the sheriff's office, the Palm Beach County State Attorney's Office and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the sheriff's office can not say more about what happened after Custer fired four shots at Adams.
The shooting took place in the parking lot of Seth Adams' family business. Custer was conducting undercover surveillance while parked in the lot of A One Stop Garden Shop, at the corner of A Road and Okeechobee Boulevard in Loxahatchee Groves, when Adams pulled into the lot.
Palm Beach County Sheriff Ric Bradshaw has repeatedly defended Custer, saying that Adams lunged at him, tried to choke him and did not comply with Custer's commands. After Adams reached into his truck for something, Custer shot him as he feared for his life, Bradshaw said.
The Adams family has previously said, through their former attorneys Valentin Rodriguez and Robert Saylor, that Adams could have lived if someone had helped him sooner. Adams made two phone calls to his brother and sister-in-law after the shooting.
The family and LaBovick, who started working with the family last week, have other questions about the shooting. They include what was Custer surveilling and why was Custer, a 14-year veteran, not able to handle the situation without using his gun.
LaBovick also said that people who heard the gunshots also heard squealing of tires and an engine racing off.
When asked if he planned a civil suit against the sheriff's office, LaBovick said the family would like to have their questions answered first.
He added, "Unfortunately, a civil suit may be the only avenue they have to finding those answers."
Those who knew Adams and know Custer have defended the two men, describing both as non-confrontational.