'I've been robbed, I've been cheated:' Tearful testimony from Seth Adams' father in civil trial

Tearful testimony from Seth Adams' father
Posted at 1:33 PM, Mar 02, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-02 19:23:07-05

Five years later, when asked about the loss of his son, Seth Adams, 24, Richard Adams will tell you, he's been "robbed" and "cheated." 

"The colors are different now, perspective so perverted and distorted," Adams told a federal jury Thursday. "There isn't the vocabulary and words to express it, try as I might, it's hollow, it's not there." 

"I will never get to hug my son again, hear his sweet laugh or see his funny smile," said Adams.

WATCH: Michael Custer's version of the shooting. WARNING: Strong language.


Richard and his wife Lydia's testimony is key to the weeks-long trial of Sergeant Michael Custer, the man who shot and killed their son. In a multi-million dollar civil lawsuit, the Adamses claim they should be awarded millions for their pain and suffering. They accuse Custer of using unnecessary, and excessive force.

The Adamses lived in Palm City, and at midnight May 16, 2012, got the call that their son Seth had been shot. Richard says his wife became "violently ill."

It took them two hours to get to Loxahatchee., where their other son David and his wife Raina were waiting at the One Stop Garden Shop.

Richard says when they got close to the shop, they were stopped by a deputy, who refused to let them move through. When Lydia persisted, Richard said the deputy stopped her and said "I will arrest you if you go any further."

The defense pointed out that the deputy was doing his job, to protect a crime scene.

About a half hour later, Richard say he, his wife, David and Raina pulled into the St. Mary's Medical Center. They asked a trauma nurse there if they could see Seth. Her reply? "No one called you? He didn't make it."

The nurse led them to Seth's body. "Lydia said I've got to see my baby, and as any mother would Lydia ran to Seth, but this person just pushed her, shoved her, she fell to the floor." She told Lydia, "you can't touch him, he's evidence." That person was a CSI with the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office. 

The defense asked Richard if he understood "for them, it's a job." Richard said, "I understand they have a job to do."

Richard said they never heard from the sheriff's office until almost two days after the shooting, when an investigator called Lydia's phone, asking about video surveillance. They had taken the garden shop's computers and couldn't get in. Lydia told them there was no surveillance system. 

"That was the only phone call," said Richard.

The defense at one point said, "well if those cameras were real, we'd know exactly what happened." Custer alleges Adams choked him, and he shot Adams because he thought he had a gun. The Adamses say physical evidence proves otherwise. 

Part of the Adams' allegations are that the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office covered their tracks during the investigation. Richard criticized Sheriff Ric Bradshaw for going on television only two days after the shooting, adding "salt to the wound" when he said "anyone who assaults one of my deputies needs to be prepared to suffer the consequences."

Richard said it was careless for someone to say that "before an investigation had been done." He said Bradshaw "demonized him (Seth), villainized him, called him a felon. None of it was true. None of it. So much information was misleading and falsely stated." In fact, Raina Adams took video following the shooting because she felt "the whole scene was suspicious," and "felt uneasy about the activities."

The defense defended Bradshaw, saying that the sheriff understood that Seth had choked his deputy, which was battery on a law enforcement officer."

Richard says he wished Bradshaw had had a little more discretion. 

Custer was never criminally charged by the state attorney's office, which is why the Adamses are suing civilly. 



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