How much is the life of a man killed in his own garage by police officers worth these days? According to a federal jury in Florida, the answer is $4.
Jurors on May 24 awarded the family of Gregory Vaughn Hill Jr. that amount more than four years after a St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Deputy shot Hill three times through his garage door while responding to a noise complaint filed by Hill’s neighbors.
Perhaps more shocking than the sum itself is just how the jury came to its decision—assigning one dollar to Hill’s mother for funeral expenses, and one dollar to each of Hill’s children for their pain and suffering.
According to the jury form, Hill himself was found 99 percent liable for his own shooting death because he’d been “under the influence of alcoholic beverages to the extent that his normal faculties were impaired.” The sheriff’s office, meanwhile, was found to be just 1 percent liable, and is therefore only responsible for four cents out of the total awarded sum.
On Facebook, the St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office praised the jury’s decision (duh) and wished “everyone involved in the case the best,” which I’m sure will be of great comfort to Hill’s family.
The verdict marks the end of a wrongful death suit filed by Hill’s family in 2016—two years after deputies arrived at Hill’s home following complaints that he’d been playing loud, obscene music in his garage while a nearby middle school let out for the day. When officers knocked on his front door, Hill opened the garage door, saw the police, and began closing it again. At that point one of the deputies opened fire through the door, striking him twice in the body and once in the head. Police later found an unloaded gun in his back pocket, and determined his BAC had been nearly five times over the legal limit.
The Times reported that Hill’s family had initially sought several hundreds of thousands of dollars in their suit. John Phillips, the family’s attorney, was baffled by the decision.
“I think they were trying to insult the case,” Mr. Phillips told the Times. “Why go there with the $1? That was the hurtful part.”
For Hill’s fiancé, however, the jury’s decision is not the end of the story.
“I’m going to keep fighting until I get some justice,” Davis told the Times. “That’s the only way I’m going to get peace.”