Date set for excessive force retrial of PBSO Sergeant Michael Custer

Posted at 4:49 PM, Mar 30, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-31 07:19:26-04

A Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office Sergeant, cleared of criminal wrongdoing in the shooting death of Seth Adams in 2012, will face a second wrongful death trial.

The first civil trial for Sergeant Michael Custer ended in a mistrial.

The second will begin on Oct. 10.

"It's going to be an agonizing wait. It's been, you know, five years already. It's a bitter pill to swallow to have to sit on our hands now," said Seth's father Richard Adams, outside of the federal courthouse Thursday.

U-S District Judge Daniel Hurley said he had to settle on that date, eight months from now, because of scheduling conflicts.

Judge Hurley also said he felt the "passage of time" would be good, because of "great community interest" in the case. Hurley said there could be issues with future potential jurors because of heightened coverage of the case.

"Well, we will be ready. We're ready to take it on. This is our lives and we are going to see it through until the end," said Seth's mother Lydia.

Earlier this month, after three days of deliberations, a jury of nine said they could not unanimously decide whether Sergeant Custer used excessive force when he killed Adams.

One juror, Lisa Swayze, was the holdout.

The Adams family says the 8-1 verdict makes them feel vindicated.

"It was a good feeling. It was a good feeling to hear the judge's words that he saw how things were conducted, which we felt from the very beginning," said Lydia.

During the first trial, Judge Hurley blasted the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office for what he called "a shoddy investigation" into the shooting.

Adams was shot and killed by deputy Michael Custer outside of his family’s nursery in Loxahatchee.

The Adams family is suing Sergeant Custer, claiming Custer used unjustified and excessive force.

Custer, who said he was working an unrelated undercover surveillance operation in the area at the time, claims Adams choked him, and he shot Adams after a struggle. Custer said he thought the 24-year-old was reaching for a weapon in his truck.

The Adams and their attorneys say the physical evidence disputes his account, and they will not change their strategy for the second trial.

Lawyer Wally McCall says they are open to settlement discussions, but are ready for another fight in court.