Palm Beach County

Lawmakers Slash Settlement Offer for South Florida Man Paralyzed by Sheriff's Deputy

State lawmakers decided that Dontrell Stephens should get $4.5 million in compensation and damages – much less than the $22.5 million he was awarded by a federal jury in 2016

WPTV-TV

A South Florida man who was paralyzed after being shot by a sheriff’s deputy nearly seven years ago will get nearly 20 percent of what a jury awarded him.

NBC affiliate WPTV-TV reports state lawmakers decided that Dontrell Stephens should get $4.5 million in compensation and damages – much less than the $22.5 million he was awarded by a federal jury in 2016.

Stephens, who is now 26 years old and living in a wheelchair for the rest of his life, was 19 at the time he was shot multiple times by Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Deputy Adams Lin – with one of the bullets severing Stephens’ spine.

“They’re saying they don’t know if I’m really going to live to see this whole year,” Stephens told the station when asked how long his doctors are giving him under his current medical care.

An attorney for Stephens said he currently owes $1.4 million in medical expenses and could need at least $5 million more for care.

“This is a life or death situation,” said Jack Scarola. “The tragic part of all of this is the fact that the Sheriff’s Office recognizes that and they are playing a waiting game. They don’t have to pay money to a dead man.”

State law says agencies such as the sheriff’s office only have to pay $200,000, meaning Stephens has to file a claim with the state that must go through a committee.

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