Adams family lawyer cross-examines PBSO deputy - Fox29 WFLX TV, West Palm Beach, FL-news & weather

Adams family lawyer cross-examines PBSO deputy

Wally McCall, an attorney for the Adams family, did not mince words in his cross examination of Sergeant Michael Custer.

Custer shot and killed Seth Adams in May 2012. The Adams family is suing Custer, claiming he used excessive and unjustified force.

"Are you telling me, that as an experienced tact officer, a 24 year old grabbed you by the throat?," McCall asked of Custer.

RELATED: Federal judge blasts PBSO's investigation of Adams shooting

Custer has claimed since the beginning that Seth Adams pulled into A One Stop Garden parking lot the night of May 16, 2012 and immediately began yelling at him to get off the family's property. 

Custer says he identified himself as PBSO and after Adams got out of his car, Custer did too. That's when Custer says Adams allegedly choked him.

But attorneys for the Adamses brought up pictures taken of Custer's neck that night, and asked Custer to point out any bruising, redness or scratches.

"There are no marks whatsoever," said Custer. "He had his hand on me for less than a second which prevented me from being hurt."

Custer did not seek medical attention. Custer went on to testify that "once I broke the chokehold, he continued to try to assault me." Custer says he and Adams exchanged blows, but didn't know if any of them landed.

Custer said he wanted to create distance, because "he (Adams) was matching my skills."

"You're a trained defensive tact officer and this 24 year old with no defensive training was matching you?," said McCall.

"Height is a factor," replied Custer. Custer's hands did not have any marks.

Custer says after the fight was over, he took out his pistol and pointed it at Seth. "His actions constituted deadly force ... I was justified in shooting Seth Adams then and there."

Custer claims he yelled commands at Adams while pointing his gun and backing up, "to create distance."

Custer says while he asked Adams "to get on the ground," Adams instead ran to his truck. "Was he suicidal .. death by cop?," asked McCall. "I don't know what he was thinking," said Custer.

Custer claims he said "If you go to truck, I'm going to shot you."

Although his training is to create distance, McCall questioned why instead Custer ran to Adams and tried to pull him out of his truck. "Apples and oranges," said Custer.

Custer says Adams rummaged around in his truck, and then spun out, advancing toward him. Custer said "he needed to use deadly force."

The Adams' attorney, Wally McCall questioned Custer again about where Adams was standing when he was shot. Custer said he spun out from the general area of the door.

McCall pointed out that Custer had originally said, in a taped deposition in 2014, that Custer said Adams was between the door and the truck.

"Where was he?" asked McCall. Custer said "well he was active, moving .. rapidly advancing. Never said he was motionless."

McCall asked how close Custer was to him. Custer said Adams was very close because Custer had been trying to grab Adams before he spun around. In his deposition Custer told attorneys "one foot."

McCall pointed out that 4 experts had testified earlier in the trial that the gun was probably 2-3 feet away.

A central argument in this multi-million dollar trial is where Adams and Custer were standing when Adams was shot. The Adams family says Custer's version of events don't match up with the physical evidence.

McCall continued to question Custer on Adams' positioning to which Custer said "I use door area as a general landmark for the door and side of truck." McCall pointed out that this was different information than Custer had previously testified to.

Experts have testified that Adams was first shot in the right arm and began bleeding immediately. McCall showed pictures of Adams' truck, which showed no blood inside the truck, on the front seat or one the driver side door.

"Would you expect to see a bullet hole in that door since you fired 4 shots at him there?," asked McCall.

"Not necessarily. If the window was open, could have gone through. Could have gone over the door," said Custer.

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