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Palm Beach County State Attorney won't reopen Seth Adams shooting case

Posted at 12:07 PM, Jun 16, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-16 19:48:55-04

Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg will not reopen a criminal investigation into the shooting death of Seth Adams.

Adams died in May 2012, after he was shot by PBSO Sgt. Michael Custer in the parking lot of his family's A One Stop Garden Shop in Loxahatchee.

Following a federal civil mistrial in March and a $2.5 million settlement with PBSO last month, the Adams family publicly asked Aronberg to once again look at the case, and consider criminal charges.

In a letter sent earlier this week to the family's attorney Wallace McCall, Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg stood by the 2012 state attorney's decision, calling the shooting by Sergeant Michael Custer justified.

Aronberg explained his decision in the letter saying, "Justice deserved finality, and we respect the decisions made by previous administrations and give great deference to them. As prosecutors, it is unethical to file criminal charges when we have no good faith basis that we would succeed at trial."

The Adams family and their attorneys almost succeeded at trial in March. The federal civil trial ended with a hung jury. 8 of 9 jurors felt Custer used excessive force.

Stephen LeClainche, one of the Adams' family attorneys, told Contact 5 Friday that Aronberg's decision wasn't unexpected. He says Aronberg claimed "there was no new evidence to open the case," and that the "case was thoroughly investigated."

LeClainche disagrees and so did U.S. District Judge Daniel Hurley during the March trial.

Speaking from the beach, Judge Hurley said one investigator's admitted inability to reconcile inconsistencies, and collect all evidence at the scene was "slipshod and shoddy, a disgrace."

Seth's parents have said before that Aronberg is relying on an investigation that obviously wasn't conducted properly, as supported by Judge Hurley's words.

Custer said he shot Adams because he feared for his life, and claimed Adams had attempted to strangle him, and then reach into his pickup truck for what Custer thought was a gun. Adams was unarmed.

The Adams family and their attorneys argued in court, that physical evidence gathered at the scene did not support Custer's version of events.

The Adams settled with PBSO last month, for $2.5 million. At the time, the Adams said in a news conference that they felt PBSO admitted guilt with the settlement.

On Friday, the Adams' attorney, Stephen LeClainche, told Contact 5 they were still waiting to hear from the FBI about whether it would conduct a criminal investigation and were considering their options moving forward.

Statement from Lydia Adams:

"Justice deserves finality"
In other words State Attorney Aronberg and his office refuse to do what they are required to do.

Finality has been put above Justice. "Finality of justice" should never prevail over fairness and accuracy.
The importance of "finality" has been inflated out of proportion. The state attorney, Dave Aronberg,  is charged with ensuring fairness and accuracy in the pursuit of Justice. Sadly, our State Attorney  seems to care only about "finality".

Aronberg  states the FDLE concluded PBSO investigation was sufficient, thorough and in conformance with procedures. However, the FDLE based that conclusion on faulty and biased evidence provided to them by PBSO, who withheld and omitted crucial evidence. 

To give no credibility to a senior federal judge's view on PBSO'S inadequate investigation demonstrates an alignment with  the sheriff's office when there should be a separation of powers. This shows a lack of integrity and a miscarriage of Justice on behalf of Seth.