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Jury clears deputy in fatal shooting, awards victim's family $5

Jury clears deputy in fatal shooting, awards victim's family $5

The family of a 30-year-old man who was shot dead by a U.S. sheriff's deputy have been awarded $4 (£3) in damages following a wrongful death lawsuit.

Hill was fatally shot in January 2014 when sheriff's deputies responded to a noise complaint from one of Hill's neighbor's about loud music coming from his garage.

According to the New York Times, officers arrived and knocked on the garage door.

"Deputy Newman, perceiving that his life and the life of his fellow officer was in imminent danger, fired four shots at Hill", according to a court document filed by Newman's attorney. And after a brief encounter with the deputies, he was discovered dead inside the garage with a gun in his back pocket; the deputies said he had been holding it during their confrontation, though that claim is in dispute.

A federal jury that was responsible for hearing the wrongful death lawsuit brought by Hill's mother was asked to rule whether the man's constitutional rights had been violated and how much damages should be awarded to his family.

The grievous punchline: The jury unfathomably found Hill 99% liable for his own murder because "under the influence of alcoholic beverages to the extent that his normal faculties were impaired" - that death penalty offense again - thus reducing the family's award, and law enforcement's liability, to pennies.

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However, on Wednesday (May 30) it was reported that a jury deduced that Newman did not use any excessive force, but his boss, Sheriff Ken Mascara, might have been "slightly negligent" when corresponding with Newman.

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

According to Phillips, after about six hours of deliberation, the jury came into the courtroom and said they couldn't reach a verdict, but the judge sent them back. In doing so, the jury effectively erased any damages, Phillips said.

Phillips said he planned to appeal the verdict and urged people on Twitter to donate to the Hill family.

An attorney representing Hill's estate and family said evidence suggested the unloaded gun never left Hill's back pocket. "He made the best decision he could for the safety of his partner, himself and the public given the circumstances he faced".

Phillips disputed that Hill raised his gun toward officers when they confronted him. "We appreciate the jurys time and understanding".

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Phillips said Hill's then-9-year-old daughter was at the elementary school across the street and saw her father get killed.

Davis called him a family man who loved working and fishing, and always provided for his children.

It is still unclear what exactly happened in the seconds that unfolded, as Newman drew his gun and fired four times toward Hill as the garage door started to go down.

The decision astonished the family's lawyer, John Phillips.

University of Miami law professor Osamudia James says the option of nominal damages is given to juries as a way to acknowledge a wrong, even if they don't believe large damages are warranted. "Thats the only way Im going to get peace".

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