Jury Awards 4 Cents to Family of Man Killed by Deputy

"My heart just dropped," his fiancee said about the ruling

The family of a Florida man killed by a sheriff's deputy has been awarded 4 cents by a federal jury.

The jury ruled Thursday that 30-year-old Gregory Hill Jr. was 99 percent responsible for his death, because he was drunk, and the St. Lucie County Sheriff's Office was 1 percent responsible. TCPalm reports the jury awarded Hill's relatives $4, of which they get 1 percent.

"My heart just dropped," Monique Davis, Hill's fiancee, told NBC News. "It was like, are y'all serious?"

Deputy Christopher Newman and his partner went to Hill's home in 2014 for a loud music complaint. After they knocked on the garage and front doors, Hill opened the garage. When the door started back down, Newman fired, killing Hill. An unloaded gun was found in Hill's pocket.

Tests showed Hill's blood-alcohol content was 0.40, five times the driving limit.

Newman was not indicted, but Hill's mother filed a wrongful death lawsuit against both Newman and his boss, St. Lucie County Sheriff Ken Mascara. Newman was cleared and Mascara was given a small portion of blame. 

Police say Hill pulled out a gun, but the family's attorney, John Phillips, disputed that claim, questioning how the gun ended up in Hill's back pocket before he died.

"I'd have rather seen a zero than have to tell the children that their pain and suffering for losing their father is only a dollar," Phillips, told NBC News. 

On the jury's decision, Phillips added, "Either it was punitive or they viewed these children's pain as virtually worthless."

The St. Lucie County Sheriff's Office released a statement the day the verdict was reached from Mascara: "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 everyday, he made the best decision he could for the safety of his partner, himself, and the public given the circumstances he faced." 

Phillips told NBC News he is getting ready to file a motion for a new trial. 

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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