Lawsuit: Palm Beach County deputy who shot Dontrell Stephens in 2013 had record of complaints

Even Jack Scarola, the lawyer representing Dontrell Stephens in a suit against the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office, doesn’t thinks Deputy Adams Lin intended to leave Stephens paralyzed.

In 2013, Lin shot Stephens four times after stopping him for riding his bicycle the wrong way across Haverhill Road. Captured on video, it’s one of more than 250 shootings detailed in a year-long investigative report by the Post’s Lawrence Mower and NewsChannel 5’s Katie LaGrone.

Lin thought Stephens was reaching for a gun. There was no weapon though. PBSO and the State Attorney’s office concluded Lin acted appropriately.

And he’s been cleared of other complaints as well, writes Scarola in the Stephens suit. But Scarola believes that’s a large part of the problem: that PBSO has been reluctant to mete out serious discipline.

Scarola is holding a press conference Friday at 4 p.m. to talk about the Stephens case and his views on PBSO, which he believes is becoming increasingly militaristic in its approach to policing.

Sheriff Ric Bradshaw can’t comment on the specifics of the suit, but in court filings, PBSO lawyers have emphatically defended his actions in the Stephens shooting.

From the Stephens lawsuit:

“Among the incidents described in LIN’s file are (i) an allegation that he conducted an illegal “stop and frisk” on a woman walking along the sidewalk by claiming that she was obstructing traffic, (ii) an allegation that he used excessive force, and used the N-word, while effecting the arrest of an African-American man, and (iii) an incident in which LIN fired his Taser at a man because of a perceived threat, LIN created a written report stating that he gave the man multiple commands to drop a rock in his right hand before deploying the Taser, the Taser-mounted video showed that LIN said “drop the rock” just one time, less than one second before firing the Taser, and LIN admitted to the discrepancies between his written report and the video but claimed that he was still justified in deploying the Taser.

“On those occasions, as on all occasions when LIN’s interaction with the public has been evaluated by a PBSO supervisor, LIN’s conduct was determined to be reasonable, justified, and/or consistent with PBSO policy.”

Further, wrote Scarola,

“On six separate occasions since May 2011, the PBSO Early Intervention System flagged LIN for having five or more use of force incidents in the preceding twelve months. On two occasions since March 2013, the Early Intervention System flagged LIN for having five or more incident reviews in the preceding twenty-four months.

“None of the Early Intervention System alerts, however, led to any additional training for LIN or any other disciplinary action. To the contrary, on the two occasions when PBSO supervisors wrote formal memoranda about LIN’s use of force alerts, they reiterated that LIN’s use of force was and justified “and onforms to existing General Orders.”

 

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