PBSO shooting cases cause dilemma for attorney

Posted at 6:58 PM, Jan 20, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-21 04:07:23-05

On Wednesday morning, Palm Beach County sheriff's attorney Summer Baranco is scheduled to be in a Fort Lauderdale federal courtroom to defend the PBSO against a lawsuit stemming from the high-profile 2013 deputy-involved shooting of 23-year-old Dontrell Stephens. 

Also that day, Summer Baranco is scheduled to be in a West Palm Beach federal courtroom to defend PBSO on how the agency lost and destroyed evidence from another high-profile deputy-involved shooting, this time the 2012 shooting death of 24-year-old Seth Adams.

Two civil cases stemming from two separate deputy-involved shootings has caused a courtroom dilemma for the Fort Lauderdale-based attorney.

Baranco tried to avoid the conflict.  She filed a request with U.S. District Court Judge Daniel Hurley, who's presiding over the Seth Adams case.  She asked Judge Hurley to push back the scheduled evidence hearing from the Seth Adams case. Judge Hurley denied her request.

What's an attorney to do? We're not sure.  

The Contact 5 Investigators sent Barranco two emails asking about her apparent scheduling conflict.  She hasn't responded to either request.  The Contact 5 Investigators also reached out to a spokesperson for PBSO.  Still, we've received no response.

The shooting of Dontrell Stephens made naitonal headlines last April when the Contact 5 Investigators in a joint investigation with the Palm Beach Post released patrol car dash cam video of the shooting.  

The video went viral moments after WPTV posted the video on our facebook page.  

It showed, then 20-year-old Stephens riding his bike along Haverhill Road in West Palm Beach when PBSO deputy Adams Lin begins to trail him.  

Stephens turns onto a side rode and pulls over.  

He gets off his bike and four seconds later is shot four times by Deputy Lin.  

At the time, Stephens had nothing in his hands but a cell phone.

Stephens survived the shooting but remains wheelchair bound, paralyzed from the waist down.  

Deputy Lin claims Stephens made a sudden move that suggested he was armed with a gun.  

PBSO Sheriff Ric Bradshaw further defended the shooting after the Contact 5 Investigators featured it as part of our joint series with the Post, Line of Fire, which found troubling patterns in the way PBSO investigates its own shootings.  

Sheriff Bradshaw also maintained that Stephens' sudden move prompted deputy Lin to pull the trigger.

PBSO's review of the shooting back in 2013 cleared the deputy of any policy violations.  The State Attorney's office also cleared the shooting, concluding Deputy Lin's was justified in his use of deadly force.

Stephens, however, isn't Jack Scarola, sued PBSO a year after the shooting.