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Family of Black Man Killed by Police Awarded 4 Cents in Damages

By Petr Knava | News | June 1, 2018 |

By Petr Knava | News | June 1, 2018 |


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It was late afternoon on a January day in 2014 when St. Lucie (Fl.) County Sheriff’s Deputy Christopher Newman and his partner were investigating a noise complaint. Earlier, around 3pm, a mother bringing her child home from school had heard loud music coming from a garage nearby and decided to call it in. Arriving at the home of Gregory Vaughn Hill Jr., the two officers approached the door of his garage. Within minutes, Gregory Vaughn Hill Jr. would be dead, lying face down on the floor of his garage, three police bullets inside his body, including one in his head.

Now, four years later, a jury has awarded Mr Hill’s family a total of 4 cents in damages.

According to the AJC:

Jurors were also asked to determine how much, if any, compensation Hill’s three children deserved for the loss of their father. They awarded Hill’s estate $4, $1 to his mother, Viola Bryant, for his funeral expenses and $1 to each of his children.

They determined, however, that Hill, 30, was 99 percent responsible for his own death because of his intoxication, court records show. TCPalm.com reported that Hill’s toxicology results showed his blood alcohol concentration was nearly .40, almost five times the legal limit for driving.

When the police arrived to investigate the noise coming from Mr Hill’s garage, he partially opened the door before closing it again. The police then shot Gregory Hill through the door, killing him inside his home. The three parties involved were the only witnesses to the episode.

As per the NYT:

I don’t get it,” the family lawyer, John M. Phillips, said.

“It’s heartbreaking,” Mr. Hill’s fiancĂ©e, Monique Davis, said. “There are a lot of questions I want to ask.”

So far, Ms. Davis and Mr. Phillips said, they have not gotten any answers. Mr. Phillips said jurors did not stay after the verdict last Thursday to speak with lawyers and have not approached him since. Through a spokeswoman, Judge Robin L. Rosenberg declined to comment on the case or release any information about the jurors.

More from the NYT:

Whether Mr. Hill, who worked at a Coca-Cola factory and had a history of serious traffic offenses, was holding a gun and whether he was ordered to drop it are in dispute.

Regardless, the garage door was eventually closed, and Deputy Newman fired four times through it, striking Mr. Hill once in the head and twice in the abdomen. The entire episode took less than two minutes.

[…]

The only gun recovered was found in Mr. Hill’s back pocket and was not loaded. Lawyers have argued about whether it was possible for Mr. Hill to have moved the gun to his pocket after the garage door closed.

So: The police arrived to investigate a noise complaint against a man playing music inside his home. The first such complaint. The man had an unloaded handgun in his back pocket, while in his home. He was also ‘almost five times the legal limit for driving’—while inside his home, not driving. That was, apparently, enough to make him 99% culpable for his own death. It was Gregory Hill’s own fault that police shot and killed him.


Brian’s piece should be printed and distributed to every household in America.

ETA: A fund to help support the family can be found here.



Petr is a staff contributor. You can follow him on Twitter.



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