A Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office Sergeant's personal property is now in the hands of the federal government, waiting to be auctioned to begin paying Dontrell Stephens, 23. In 2013, Stephens was shot and paralyzed by Sergeant Adam Lin after he was stopped for riding his bicycle into traffic.
A jury verdict awarded Stephens 22.4 million dollars in a civil suit to be paid by the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office. Since PBSO is a government entity, any damages over 200,000 dollars has to be approved by the state legislature. Stephens' attorney found another way to start payment of the minimum amount in the suit, by auctioning off Lin's assets.
"This case cries out for compassion. There's no doubt Dontrell Stephens, for the rest of his life will spend the rest of his life in a wheel chair," said Stuart Kaplan, former FBI special agent.
Kaplan says the move by a federal judge, even when the 22.4 million dollar jury verdict is up for appeal, speaks to the need to start getting money to Stephens.
"The judge has been satisfied and realizes the urgency that it is more important to try to get this young man some money so that he can offset some of these, I can only imagine what his medical bills are to date," added Kaplan.
President of the Palm Beach County Police Benevolent Association John Kazanjian reiterates that Sergeant Lin was never criminally charged or punished for any wrong doing by PBSO. He says this is sending a shocking message to law enforcement officers.
"Is this going to start a precedent now? Now, law enforcement officers are going to be watching over their back for any type of civil suits and you're going to lose your property?" said Kazanjian. "All across the country law enforcement officers are, you know, losing their lives, getting ambushed, getting run over, getting stabbed, all this and now this. Who is going to want to do this job? Pretty soon nobody."
Scarola has said that Palm Beach County Sheriff Ric Bradshaw could pay the 200,000 dollars to prevent the auction of Lin's assets. The auction will take place in a few weeks. We have reached out to the Sheriff for comment and are waiting for a response.
The appeals hearing is set to take place in March.