Recently released dashcam footage from a 2013 shooting appears to back up the claim that a Palm Beach County deputy lied about the shooting of an unarmed black man, a lawyer for the victim said this week.
In dashcam video published by WPTV on Thursday, 20-year-old Dontrell Stephens can be seen on his bicycle being followed by PBSO deputy Adams Lin. When Stephens realizes that he’s being followed, he pulls over and appears to confront the deputy.
Stephens briefly disappears from view of the dashcam video and when he comes back into frame, he is being shot at by the deputy. Stephens attempts to flee from the bullets, but he is hit four times. As it turned out, Stephens had a cell phone, but no weapon.
Lin can later be heard explaining to another deputy what happened.
“He starts backing away,” Lin says of encounter. “I said, ‘Get on the ground, get on the ground.’”
“I got your back man,” the second deputy assures Lin. “I got your back. Hey, you hear me?”
“Yeah, I know,” Lin replies.
In a televised press conference later that day, Sheriff Ric Bradshaw warned suspects to “[s]top what you’re doing and comply with us.”
“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,” the sheriff insisted.
Within four days, Lin had been cleared to return to duty. And the State Attorney’s Office and PBSO internal affairs later ruled that the shooting was justified.
West Palm Beach attorney Jack Scarola, who is suing on behalf of Stephens, said this week that the dashcam video appeared to contradict claims that Lin gave a command to get down on the ground before shooting.
“There are no records of any commands ever made to Dontrell Stephens,” Scarola said. “The deputy’s recorded statements following the shooting were absolutely false. Internal affairs completely ignored that evidence.”
Sheriff Bradshaw has refused to address the dashcam video, saying that department policy does not allow him to comment on pending lawsuits.
Since the shooting, Stephens has been paralyzed from the waist down. He is now confined to a wheelchair.
Watch the video below from WPTV, broadcast April 23, 2015.