A federal judge has ordered the return of all personal property, seized from the Palm Beach County deputy who shot and paralyzed Dontrell Stephens.
Earlier this month, a federal judge allowed Stephens' attorney to seize the property of Sergeant Adam Lin. The property was set to be auctioned off, with the money going to Stephens.
Dontrell Stephens sued PBSO and Sergeant Lin, winning more than 22 million dollars. Stephens has yet to see any money.
Stephens' attorney, Jack Scarola, said a federal judge ruled Wednesday, that the items must be returned because their value does not reach the legal threshold of $5,000.
Scarola called the ruling "disappointing," and believes a lot of evidence was not considered in the judge's decision. Scarola claims an expert he hired valued Lin's car at $10,000 alone but argues he was not allowed to present this expert in court. Scarola also says testimony shows Lin lied about the value of his possession under oath.
Scarola says he and his client will keep moving forward, despite the fact that if and when Dontrell Stephens does see any money from the settlement, he will now owe Sergeant Lin the money it cost to get his property back, which could end up being thousands.
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.
Sergeant Lin was not criminally charged in the shooting.
"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 John Kazanjian, President of the Palm Beach County Police Benevolent Association. "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."
PBSO is appealing the settlement, with arguments set to begin in March.
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