PBSO deputy had no justification for shooting Dontrell Stephens, expert testifies

Deputy Adams Lin shot a black American for holding his black phone in his hands while riding a bicycle.

A former police chief and FBI agent told jurors in federal court Wednesday that the paralyzing shooting of an unarmed black man was “totally unreasonable” and there was “no justification.”

Dontrell Stephens is suing the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office and Deputy Adams Lin, who shot Stephens four times, leaving him a paraplegic.

The threat assessment to the deputy’s safety did not justify the shooting, expert witness Melvin Tucker testified. “There is a crisis in confidence right now” the public has for police, he said.

“If you make an accurate threat assessment – you see a young black man riding a bike and talking on a cell phone, not an unusual thing for young people to do – you don’t have to make a split-second decision about whether to use deadly force,” Tucker said.

Lin said in a video deposition shown to the jurors in federal court Wednesday that Stephens “lunged” at him. He said after Stephens was shot and on the ground, he was “calling for help.”

Although he submitted medical bills for $1.8 million so far, the two sides agreed to $1.5 million in medical bills. In addition, experts testified Stephens will need nearly $5 million for medical care until age 70. Stephens has a decreased lifespan because of the injuries.

Stephens, who has not been in court, is expected to testify Thursday.

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