The Palm Beach County Sheriff’s has agreed to settle the federal lawsuit over the shooting of a mentally-challenged man accused of attacking one of its deputies, according to the parents of Aldo Alvarez.
“It’s a new beginning. It’s a new beginning, thank you Jesus,” Ana Alvarez told the Contact 5 Investigators Tuesday. According to Alvarez, the total settlement will be about $600,000 with a portion coming from PBSO and a portion coming from the deputy’s homeowner insurance company. Neither PBSO nor Alvarez’s civil attorneys confirmed the information.
PBSO deputy Joshua McGehee was off-duty when he shot Aldo Alvarez six times in May 2013. McGehee said Alvarez, who was unarmed at the time, attacked him in the garage of the deputy’s then-Royal Palm Beach home. 39-year-old Alvarez, who was diagnosed with schizophrenia after high school, lived with his parents across the street from the deputy at the time of the shooting. Alvarez is still facing charges from the shooting including burglary and battery on a law enforcement officer. Last summer a judge ordered him off house arrest after living two years with an electronic monitor.
The civil lawsuit, filed last year, disputes the deputy’s version of what led up to the shooting. McGehee told investigators he shot Alvarez in his garage because Alvarez positioned him in the corner of the garage and started to attack him after Alvarez ignored repeated orders to leave. However, shell casings show the deputy was firing toward the house, according to the federal lawsuit filed by Alvarez’s family attorneys, Stuart Kaplan and Joseph Sconzo.
“We are not vengeful people. We’ve been through a lot but we are not hating them,” said Aldo’s mom when asked how she felt about PBSO.
Deputy Joshua McGehee’s mother, Annette Marvin, is Sheriff Ric Bradshaw’s executive assistant. Attorneys Kaplan and Sconzo also claimed PBSO cleared McGehee of wrongdoing because of his personal connection to the Sheriff.
In court documents filed Monday, Alvarez’s family attorneys say it’s believed Deputy McGehee and/or his mother called Sheriff Bradshaw immediately after the shooting. According to these documents, it’s believed that Sheriff Bradshaw kept in constant contact with McGehee and/or his mother as well as investigators on the scene.
Shortly after the shooting, the Contact 5 Investigators exclusively discovered that Deputy McGehee never took his mandatory pre-employment psychological exam prior to becoming a sworn officer with the agency in 2011. He was originally hired in 2008 in a civilian capacity.
According to a 2010 email, a PBSO HR Manager wrote, “Please be advised that Major VanReeth is waiving the psychological examination for Mr. McGehee. As a result, Mr. McGehee is not to be scheduled for a Psychological Examination.” In response to why Mr. McGehee’s psych exam was waived, a PBSO spokesperson sent a statement to the Contact 5 Investigators at the time explaining that present employees whose work history and discipline show no negative indicators are not required to take a psych or polygraph test.
This settlement marks the third settlement this year over a high profile PBSO shooting. All of them, involved mentally-challenged individuals.
Still, Aldo’s parents won’t fully be able to rest until Aldo’s criminal case is over.
“For me the most important thing is for them to drop the charges. I hope, I’m praying because to me that’s the main thing. Give him back his life, his sanity, his freedom,” said Ana Alvarez.
Earlier this year, PBSO agreed to pay out more than $560,000 to settle the shooting death of 28-year-old Matthew Pollow. Pollow was a mentally-ill Boca Raton man when he was shot to death in April 2014 after he called officers for help. The deputy who shot him claimed Pollow came after him with a screwdriver.
Last month, PBSO agreed to pay out $450,000 over the 2010 shooting of Jeremy Hutton. Hutton has Down syndrome and was a 17-years-old when he was shot while driving away from a deputy in his mother’s mini-van.
In all three of these cases, PBSO cleared the deputies of any wrongdoing and the State Attorney’s office called each deputy’s use of deadly force justified.