On Jan. 14, 2014, Gregory Hill, Jr. was in the garage of his Fort Pierce, FL home enjoying his music and some drinks when two sheriff deputies came in. They were responding to a noise complaint. The details of what transpired next will never be known. But here are the facts: Hill was shot three times by one the deputies. He was found dead with a gun in his back pocket. The deputies claimed that he was holding the gun during their confrontation. The officers were never indicted for the shooting.
In 2016, the family filed a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of the 30-year-old Hill, father of three children ages 3, 6 and 9 at the time of his death.
This week, a jury awarded the family $4 for their loss.
The jury concluded that the shooter Deputy Christoper Newman had not used excessive force. They also concluded that the St. Lucie County sheriff, Ken Mascara, had been slightly negligent given Deputy Newman’s actions. The $4 in damages included $1 for funeral expenses and $1 for each child’s loss.
Because jurors also found that the sheriff’s office was only 1 percent at fault in the death, that award was reduced to four cents. It was also concluded that because a toxicology report determined that Hill was intoxicated that he was mostly to blame for the shooting. A judge will reduce the four-cent award to nothing.
“It’s heartbreaking,” said Hill’s fiancée, Monique Davis.
St. Lucie County sheriff Mascara defended the shooting.
“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,” he said. “We appreciate the jury’s time and understanding.”