Video Shows Deputy Shooting Dontrell Stephens
Video footage of a Palm Beach deputy shooting an unarmed black man four times has been released.
Exclusively-obtained dash-cam footage shows 20-year-old Dontrell Stephens talking on a cellphone while riding his bike on a Friday morning in September of 2013. He can be seen turning onto Norma Elaine Road and Okeechobee Boulevard as deputy Adams Lin trails him. After realizing he’s being followed, Stephens pulls over, gets off his bike with a cellphone in his right hand and walks towards the deputy.
Stephens is out of frame for a few seconds, only to be seen again when being shot four times. Stephens is seen running from the bullets, then dropping to the ground when struck.
He had nothing but a cellphone at the time.
The footage was released as part of a federal wrongful death lawsuit filed against the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office. The video also picked up dialogue between Lin and another officer shortly after the shooting.
“He starts backing away,” Lin explains. “I said, ‘Get on the ground, get on the ground.” Then, the other deputy is heard saying, “I got your back man. I got your back. Hey, you hear me?” Deputy Lin responds, “Yeah, I know.” That same day, Sheriff Ric Bradshaw went on TV to defend the shooting.
“Stop what you’re doing and comply with us,” he told reporters. “There’s nothing in the rules of engagement that says we have to put our lives in jeopardy to wait to find out what this is to get killed.”
Lin was cleared to return to work four days later. Months later, investigators from the State Attorney’s Office and the Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office ruled the shooting justified.
West Palm Beach attorney Jack Scarola is suing the sheriff and the deputy on Stephen’s behalf. He says he found issues with the deputy’s statements after requesting and viewing all the video and audio recordings from the incident.
“There are no records of any commands ever made to Dontrell Stephens,” explained Scarola. “The deputy’s recorded statements following the shooting were absolutely false. Internal affairs completely ignored that evidence,” he said.
Today, Stephens is paralyzed from the waist down. The Sheriff’s policy is to not comment on pending litigation.