Dontrell Stephens, a 24-year-old black man, was shot and paralyzed from his waist down by Sgt. Adams Lin, a Florida police officer.
Dontrell Stephens was shot four times in September 2013 by Palm Beach County sheriff’s deputy, Sgt. Adams Lin.
The officer claimed that Stephens’ left hand was behind his back and flashed what he believed to be a gun.
However, videotape from a dashboard camera in Lin’s patrol car showed Stephens had his phone in his right hand and that his left hand was empty.
The testimonies of Stephens were upheld by the jury in a federal civil trial that ended on Feb. 3.
Consequently, he was awarded $23 million in damages in addition to $17.1 million “for pain and suffering, emotional distress, disfigurement and other items,” said The AP.
In a press conference, Stephens expressed deep satisfaction in the jury and said that he has no animosity against Adam Lin.
“I was glad the jury got to hear my testimony and knew I was telling the truth. I was very proud of the jury and to be able to know [that they recognized] I had spoken the truth.
According to him, “you have to forgive people. You can’t hold a grudge against someone for what they did, but I would like an apology.”
His medical bills are said to have exceeded $2 million, and there is the possibility he would need $4 million in care over his lifespan.
The Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office has, however, described the verdict as “shocking and disappointing.” It plans to appeal the verdict.
According to one of Stephens’ attorneys, Jack Scarola, “The sentence Dontrell Stephens received is a life sentence to be imprisoned in that wheelchair. There’s a very real chance his life sentence will be converted into a death sentence if he doesn’t receive the care we all as a society are obligated to provide for him.”
Dontrell Stephens, although paralyzed, has surprisingly proven to the world that self-respect is the fruit of discipline, and honor is worth more than money.