Jury exonerates SLCSO deputy in deadly shooting; awards victim's family $5

Jury finds SLCSO deputy did not violate civil rights in wrongful death lawsuit (WPEC)

A federal jury cleared St. Lucie County Deputy Christopher Newman of using excessive force in the shooting death of Gregory Hill Jr. in 2014.

The jury ruled Newman did not violate Hill's civil rights. The panel of eight weighing the lawsuit filed by Hill’s family did find Sheriff Ken Mascara one percent liable for Hill’s killing.

But jurors placed the lion’s share of the blame on Hill himself, who was under the influence of alcohol at the time, finding him 99 percent responsible.

The jury awarded $5 to Hill's family.

Hill, a 30-year-old Coca-Cola warehouse employee, was shot and killed by Newman on Jan. 14, 2014 after two officers responded to a complaint that Hill was playing loud music at the family's home on Avenue Q, court documents show. The sheriff's office said Hill was drunk and carrying a gun when deputies arrived at the home.

Newman testified he saw Hill with the firearm, then the garage door closed. He then fired his handgun four times through the garage door.

One bullet struck Hill in the head, killing him. Investigators found an unloaded gun in Hill’s back pocket.

The attorney representing Hill’s family, John Phillips, said his clients would likely appeal.

Hill was was the father of three children.

The sheriff's office issued this statement:

We are pleased to see this difficult and tragic incident come to a conclusion. Deputy Newman was placed in a very difficult situation, and like so many fellow law enforcement officers must do every day, he made the best decision he could for the safety of his partner, himself, and the public given the circumstances he faced. We appreciate the jury's time and understanding and wish everyone involved in this case the best as they move forward.

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