In a decision that demonstrates the complete failure of the “justice system” in the United States, a Florida jury awarded total damages of $4 for the killing of a 30-year-old African-American man in 2014 by two sheriff’s deputies.
Adding insult to injury, the jury ruled that Gregory Hill Jr. was 99 percent responsible for the actions of the two cops who took his life, meaning that only four cents was actually to be paid out: a penny to cover his funeral costs, and a penny to each of his three surviving children, ages 13, 10 and 7.
Hill’s mother filed suit against St. Lucie County Sheriff Ken Mascara and deputy Christopher Newman, who fired the fatal shots, for wrongful death. The civil trial lasted two weeks, and after 10 hours of deliberation, the jury sided with the police and found that Hill was to blame for his own death because he was intoxicated during the fatal confrontation.
On January 14, 2014, Hill was listening to music in the garage of his Fort Pierce home when two deputies, Newman and Edward Lopez, arrived in response to a noise complaint about the volume of Hill’s sound system.
The two cops claimed that Hill answered the door in response to their knock and pointed a gun at them, ignoring their commands to drop it, and forcing Newman to open fire. But the gun was found, not on the ground in front of Hill, or in his hands, but stuck in the back pocket of his shorts, indicating that he was not confronting the officers when he opened the door.
Moreover, there was no DNA or blood spatter on the gun, although Hill was riddled with bullets to the head, abdomen and groin, and collapsed face down in a pool of his own blood.
Adding to the nightmare character of these events, Hill’s oldest child, a daughter then nine years old, was just getting out of school across the street from the home and saw her father gunned down. She testified at the civil trial that her father was not holding a gun in his hand.
The civil suit was brought after St. Lucie County prosecutors cleared the two cops of any wrongdoing.