Wrongful death case: Parents each ask $5M-$10M - Fox29 WFLX TV, West Palm Beach, FL-news & weather

Wrongful death case: Parents each ask $5M-$10M

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In his closing arguments Wally McCall, an attorney for the Seth Adams family, said it is the jury's job to untangle what he called Sgt. Michael Custer's web of lies. "A shooting based on lies can never be justified," he said.

McCall told the jury that it was their job to tell the Adams family the truth about what really happened May 16, 2012 when Custer shot Adams outside of his family’s nursery in Loxahatchee.

Seth's parents are suing Custer, accusing him of using excessive force when he shot and killed their son.

McCall told the jury that the physical evidence "cannot lie to you," and "will tell Seth's side of the story."

McCall said that Custer set up the night of May 16, "to be a disaster."

Custer was doing undercover surveillance on the Safe Boyz, a gang known for counter surveillance and putting decoys on deputies.

McCall called Custer "a coward, who compensates by being a bully."

McCall said Custer "thought Seth was one of the Safe Boyz because that's what made sense to him."

He claims Custer aggressively confronted Seth.

Custer has always claimed Seth approached him and wanted him off the family's private property. Custer claims Seth grabbed him by the throat.

The Adams' attorney, Wally McCall, says Custer said that because "that's deadly force, which meant he was entitled to use deadly force back." There were no red marks, scratches or bruises found on Custer's back.

McCall says Custer's version, that Seth was rummaging in his cab and spun out, leading Custer to think he had a weapon, also does not match the evidence.

Several experts testified that the first shot was to Seth's forearm, and that since the bullet went through, it would have started bleeding immediately and copiously.

The bullet that went through Seth's arm was found behind the truck, and a blood trail started between Custer's car and Seth's truck.

"Contrary to the laws of physics, the shooting could not have happened as Sergeant Custer said," said McCall, meaning "Seth could not possibly have been standing inside, between the door and frame of the truck as Sergeant Custer said."

McCall said "the bullet found behind the truck, the origin of the blood trail, the shell casings found behind the truck and spatter on Custer's jeans, tell Seth's story."

"Sergeant Custer shot him when the two of them were between the two vehicles, when he knew Seth was unarmed," said McCall.

McCall then went on to speak about what they allege as a cover-up at the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office.

He says PBSO ignored evidence and treated Custer as victim from the get-go.

McCall pointed out that the first time Custer ever told anyone Seth was rummaging in truck, and might have a had a weapon, was during his taped statement two days later. "He concocted that story because it matched a training video where a Georgia cop got shot to a T," he said.

The video shows a Georgia cop get shot and killed, because he does not stop a man from rummaging in his truck. The man pulls out a gun. "Sergeant Custer tailored his testimony to match a training video because that's a classic example of a justified shooting," said McCall.

The jury will decide if Custer's use of force was excessive and unreasonable. If they make that finding they will then decide proper compensation.

"How do you compensate parents for loss of a child?" said McCall.

When talking about the Adams and their lives after Seth, McCall said, "It's like a shipwreck, everyone is holding on to one piece of wreckage trying to stay afloat."

"For five years the Adams's have been trying to find an answer; what happened to our son? You're going to tell them," McCall instructed the jury.

During their closing statements, the attorneys in charge of defending Sergeant Michael Custer say there was no cover-up during their investigation into the Seth Adams shooting.

They also questioned the Adams' attorney's assertion, that the physical evidence rejects Custer's version of what happened.

The defense says they believe that when Seth Adams spun out of his truck, as Sergeant Custer has said, because of his height, he would have traveled some distance, meaning he would not have been shot exactly at the open door.

They say that's explains why no bullet fragments or blood were found in the truck.

The defense later ended its closing arguments.

Attorneys for the parents of Seth Adams had the chance to address the jury again Monday afternoon.

They are asking for $5M to $10M for Lydia Adams, and $5M to $10M for Richard Adams. 

Deliberations could begin around 3 p.m.  

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