FDLE releases report on Seth Adams shooting
PALM BEACH COUNTY, FL (WFLX) -- Palm Beach County Sheriff Ric Bradshaw held a news conference Monday afternoon in which he announced deputy sergeant Michael Custer acted 'within protocol' when he fired his weapon at Seth Adams on the night of May 17th. "This is a tragedy no matter how you cut it," said Bradshaw.
Sgt. Custer was part of a six-member undercover surveillance team in the area of Loxahatchee Groves concerned about a series of ATM thefts, unrelated to the Adams' property. "It was just very bad from the outset with Seth Adams' demeanor towards the deputy," Bradshaw said.
Bradshaw says toxicology reports show Adams was intoxicated when he and Custer came face to face. "Seth Adams' DNA is on the deputy's throat, right in the area where the deputy said he was choked," he said. "It is also on the deputy's forearm, which is consistent with the deputy breaking the choke hold. That is physical evidence that backs up exactly what the deputy says happened."
The sheriff says Adams lunged at Custer who ended up firing four shots. "The blood experts with the blood spatters and the emergency room doctors clearly confirm that this individual ran from the deputy," he said.
Because Adams later died, only Custer was able to provide investigators an account of what happened.
The sheriff said strong physical and forensic evidence supports Adams was threatening Custer and that Custer felt his life was threatened.
"Seth Adams DNA is on the deputy's throat, right in the area where the deputy said he was choked. It is also on the deputy's forearm which is consistent with him breaking the choke hold. That is physical evidence that backs up exactly what the deputy said happened," Palm Beach County Sheriff Ric Bradshaw said.
The sheriff said Adams' blood alcohol count was two times the legal limit. He said Emergency rescue crews were not blocked from the scene and that first aid was rendered in the appropriate time frame.
The sheriff said that one of the other responding deputies even took off his shirt to put pressure on Adams' chest gunshot wound. "The deputy took action while in the line of duty, that PBSO took all the necessary steps to do a proper investigation and a thorough investigation, and that Sgt. Custer followed standard procedures when responding to a threat that he reasonably perceived as a threat to his life," said Bradshaw.
Both PBSO and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement cleared Sgt. Custer of any wrongdoing in their reports.
The Palm Beach County State Attorney's Office also conducted an investigation. Paul Zacks, the Chief Assistant State Attorney wrote... "I therefore conclude that Sgt. Custer was reasonably justified in discharging his firearm, which ultimately caused the tragic death of Seth Adams. I therefore recommend that this file be closed without further review from this office." The State Attorney must still act on the recommendation.