On Thursday, dashcam video was published by WPTV, which depicted an encounter between 20-year-old Dontrell Stephens and Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Deputy Adams Lin that left Stephens paralyzed from the waist down in September 2013.
The video shows Lin trailing Stephens, as Stephens rides on his bicycle while talking on his cellphone. Stephens pulls off to the side of the road, gets off of his bicycle, walks towards Lin and out of the dash cam’s frame, with his cellphone in his right hand.
Four seconds later Stephens reappears in the video and Lin opens fire, shooting Stephens four times.
WPTV noted that Stephens has a criminal record for possessing cocaine, and that the release of the video is part of a joint investigation into police shootings as part of a federal wrongful death lawsuit filed against Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office.
A second Deputy arrived at the scene, and the video shows Lin defending himself, saying, “He starts backing away. I said, ‘Get on the ground, get on the ground.‘”
The other deputy replies, “I got your back man. I got your back. Hey, you hear me?”
WPTV reported that Lin was “cleared to return to work four days later,” and that months later, “investigators from the State Attorney’s Office and PBSO ruled the shooting justified.”
On the day of the shooting, Sheriff Ric Bradshaw defended Lin’s actions. “Stop what you’re doing and comply with us,” Bradshaw said. “There’s nothing in the rules of engagement that says we have to put our lives in jeopardy to wait to find out what this is to get killed.”
Jack Scarola, an attorney in West Palm Beach, told WPTV that he is suing the sheriff and the deputy on Stephens’ behalf, and that after viewing the video footage and listening to the audio recording from the encounter, he has discovered issues with Lin’s story.
“There are no records of any commands ever made to Dontrell Stephens,” Scarola said. “The deputy’s recorded statements following the shooting were absolutely false. Internal affairs completely ignored that evidence.”