Seth Adams: Juror opens up about excessive force mistrial

Posted at 11:10 PM, Mar 20, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-21 04:16:47-04

A juror is opening up about his time on the Palm Beach County Sheriff Sergeant Michael Custer excessive force civil trial—resulting in a mistrial.

Custer shot and killed Seth Adams in May 2012, in a property dispute. Custer says Adams choked him, and was forced to shoot, when he thought Adams had a gun.

Criminal charges were never filed but the Adams’ family sued, saying that Seth didn’t need to die, that Custer used excessive force.

The Adams' were one vote away from winning.

At the start, juror seven was among the three who thought Sgt. Michael Custer didn’t need to kill Seth Adams.

“It was three for the defense, three for the plaintiff, three undecided,” says juror number seven, who asked we protect his identity.

As they compared the more than 1,000 pieces of evidence to Custer’s testimony, one by one, jurors joined number seven’s side.

“Almost everything he said was contradicted by the evidence that we had to go on,” says juror seven.

One example: Custer says he and Adams fought, but there was no cuts, bruises or even a rip in a shirt to back it up.

“There’s no proof of that.  Absolutely none,” said the juror.

Juror seven says juror five, who sources tell NewsChannel 5 is Lisa Niemi Shwayze, Patrick Shwayze’s widow, was the only one left on Custer’s side at that point- even when the judge gave them one last chance.

“She said well it’s always possible there won’t be any marks. And I said that’s possible. But I don’t think we’re here to deal with the possible. We’re here to deal with the evidence and testimony.”  He said, “The foreman finally says, ‘alright I’ll simply send a note to the judge that we are indeed a hung jury.’”

Juror seven says at times, it was nine angry men and women.

"You don’t put nine people in a room for three days and be all buddy, buddy when you come out.”  He says, “I think it’s absolutely sickening to me we put all that time into this for what boiled down to nothing.”

So, what was it that couldn’t convince Swayze?

“That’s the million dollar question there,” said the juror.

It’s actually a $10 million to $20 million question, which is how much the Adams’ asked for. 

Federal Judge Daniel Hurley made an exception to allow the jurors to speak about this case.  A hearing to discuss a new trial is set for March 30.