Family Files Lawsuit Against Palm Beach County Florida Sheriff
In Palm Beach County Florida, in October 2010, 17 –year old Jeremy Hutton took the keys to his parent’s van and took off in it. Jeremy has severe Down Syndrome. Jeremy’s mom called 911 and reported it. Deputies located and followed the van. Deputy Jason Franqui got out of his car and fired 6 times, hitting Jeremy with three bullets. Jeremy’s family has filed a lawsuit against the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s office for unjustified shooting. They are represented by attorney Stuart Kaplan, who stated;
“The deputy says, ‘I looked at him, he looked at me and made a sharp right turn and turned the vehicle towards me. That’s a lie.”
The Palm Beach County’s internal investigation and the state’s attorney found the deputy’s decision to use force was justified. Kaplan also stated that Jeremy, who has the mental capacity of a 6-year old, wasn’t a threat.
Photos of the van show that the bullet holes were to the driver’s side and back of the vehicle. WPTV reports that the Hutton case is one of 16 shootings since 2005 where deputies shot into moving vehicles. The Palm Beach Sheriff (PBSO) has a policy that prohibits deputies from shooting into moving cars. Sheriff Ric Bradshaw promoted the restrictive policy as one of his first policy changes after he was elected in 2005.
According to PBSO’s deadly force policy, shooting into moving vehicles is prohibited except when a deputy reasonably believes that someone in the vehicle is threatening to shoot them or if the vehicle is being used as a weapon and shooting at the vehicle wouldn’t harm anyone else nearby.
As in the case with Jeremy, when he was shot, he ran into another vehicle. Shooting into moving vehicles places the public at risk.
Jeremy’s parent, Amy and Donald Hutton, began adopting children with severe disabilities in 1975 after they read about children from Vietnam who needed families. Because of conditions in their home, the Huttons are barred from locking any child in a room for any reason.