Jury Awards $4 To Family Of Florida Man Killed By Cop

It was January 2014, in St. Lucie County, Florida. A mother picking up her child at Frances K. Sweet Elementary School heard loud music, the lyrics of which she found offensive. She called the police.

Deputy Christopher Newman and his partner, Deputy Edward Lopez, came to the garage of the house of 30-year old Gregory Hill Jr.  Gregory worked at a Coca-Cola warehouse.

Newman knocked on the garage door, but no one responded.  He then knocked on the front door, and said that he heard the music get louder.  The garage door opened.   Gregory stood facing out of the garage with his left hand on the door and his right hand down.  He then began closing the garage door.  Newman alleged that Gregory brandished a hand gun.

Attorney John Phillips points out the four bullet holes in Gregory Hill’s garage door.

Newman drew his gun and fired through the garage door four times.  Gregory was shot twice in the abdomen and once in the head.  An unloaded 9mm handgun was found in his back pocket.   Gregory was highly intoxicated, but he was in his own home.

City law gives warnings for the first offense for unnecessary noise, a citation for a second offense, and a misdemeanor charge for a third offense.  This incident was the first “unnecessary noise” offense against Gregory.

A grand jury cleared Newman.  In 2016, Gregory’s mom, represented by Jacksonville attorney John Phillips, filed a civil suit alleging negligence and municipal liability against St. Lucie County Sheriff Ken Mascara, in his official capacity.  Last week after four days of trial, the jury deliberated about 10 hours before finding that St. Lucie County Sheriff Ken Mascara, in his official capacity, was negligent but was only 1 percent liable.  They held Gregory 99 percent liable for the “incident and his resulting injuries.”

According to the Chicago Sun-Times;

“The jury awarded $4 in damages — $1 to Hill’s mother, Viola Bryant, for funeral expenses and $1 to each of Hill’s three children for loss of parental companionship, instruction, guidance, mental pain and suffering.”

The portion of the award the Sheriff’s Office is reduced to 4 cents to reflect the one percent liability.

Gregory was father to two daughters and a son.

CNN reports;

“Attorney John Phillips, who represents Hill’s family, called the ruling “perplexing” and questioned why the jury would award $1 for $11,000 in funeral expenses and another dollar for each child’s suffering when it could have simply awarded no damages.”

“That a black child’s pain is only worth a dollar is exactly the problem with the plight of the African-American right now. This says, black lives don’t matter,” he said.
Phillips plans to file a motion for a new trial in US District Court, and if that’s denied, he will take it to the US 11th Circuit Court of Appeals.”

The jury consisted of one black man, two white men and five white women.

As California attorney David Allen says at the end of his videos, “What have we learned?”  We’ve learned that if you’re off work, drink in your own garage and decide to listen to music and turn up the volume, that someone can call the police.  We’ve learned that closing the door on your own property while Black is a death sentence.  We’ve learned a jury values your burial expense, and the lives of your mom and children to be worth $4.00.

The following video raises excellent points.


Posted on 05/31/2018, in Black lives matter, Cases, Gregory Hill Jr. and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 42 Comments.

  1. Two sides to a story

    Unacceptable and infuriating.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Yes, and intimidating. If juries are only going to award an insult, then attorneys are not going to want to take cases. Remember, John Phillips represented Jordan Davis’ parents in civil matters against Michael Dunn in a “loud music” case.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. This award is really disrespectful and a slap in the face. This is not justice!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Yes, ladylove. It was a punishment. It punished the family for seeking redress, and it punished attorney John Phillips for representing them. It was intended to send messages to discourage others.

      Liked by 3 people

  3. crustyolemothman

    Dear Xena,

    White America needs to keep telling them selves that skin color does not matter, does not matter, does not matter! It is blatant racism like this award that ensures this nation remains divided! Anyone that does not think this nation is in trouble has their head stuck in the sand.. Can anyone actually say now that this nation is not what we used to call a “third world nation”?

    Liked by 4 people

    • Mothman,
      ABSOLUTELY! Let White American also say there is no such thing as oppression through nullification of laws. It’s hard to find lawyers to take employment discrimination cases because the courts rule for employers. This case follows the pattern — award plaintiffs, but not enough to make it worthwhile for their lawyers. Then comes the trickle down where Whites begin to suffer the same consequences in lawsuits against officers because of case precedence.

      Liked by 3 people

  4. This case is disgusting on so many levels. The verdict is an insult and a half and even that would be one of the biggest understatements of a century. Then again, this is the same state where a guy gets killed for the crime of blasting music in his own house yet also in Florida, a guy can straight up murder a married couple and eat their faces while living to tell about it and talk on the Dr. Phil show! Sickening!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Ospreyshire,
      When I first the watched the video that I put in the post, and heard all the things that Deputy Newman did wrong, I wondered why he was not charged. So, I think Florida is setting a pattern. (1) Don’t charge. (2) Let the family file a civil suit. (3) Put the victim on trial. (4) Believe the facts, but award pennies.

      What is scary is that this case was decided in a federal court. That means their decisions set precedence across America in other federal courts.

      Liked by 3 people

      • That makes so much sense as they try to set some kind of precedent against the victims and their families. It’s just so scary to think about it that way.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Ospreyshire,
          That’s the historical pattern. Not long ago, I watched a documentary about Detroit and their handling of rape kits. Police weren’t looking for alleged offenders — the rape kits were stored in a warehouse. If I remember correctly, there were 11,000 rape kits in Detroit just sitting, going back 20 years. So, that’s another way to nullify laws. Imagine the emotional and psychological harm that does to victims?

          Liked by 1 person

          • That’s disgusting, yet I’m not surprised. How come all these #MeToo people aren’t talking about this? How sickening? Who knows how many low-profile rapists or worse…some Daniel Holtzclaw types are running around since then? Unbelievable. My heart goes out to all those victims.

            Liked by 1 person

          • Osprehyshire,
            The #MeToo people probably don’t know about it. Those who are popular or famous address the sexual harassment they encountered in the entertainment industry. By the way, Holzclaw’s family has a petition to the Governor. Rather than appeal his conviction and sentencing, they are re-litigating the case in social media. And of course, that includes shaming the victims.

            Liked by 1 person

          • Good point. The movement mainly focuses on the famous while ignoring lesser known offenders. I’ll add onto your point by saying #MeToo and various other groups put the spotlight more often on Black men than their Caucasian counterparts. Just look the coverage of Bill Cosby or Morgan Freeman compared to Harvey Weinstein or Louis CK for example. It just seems like a proxy against POCs in general from what I surmise. I knew Holtzclaw was held in a secret location under an alias and Michelle Malkin made a big TV special defending him, but I didn’t know that appeal. Unbelievable. It’s sick that real rapists are treated better than the falsely accused (Central Park Five, anyone?) and especially the victims.

            Liked by 1 person

          • Yes, Ospreyshire, and the entertainment industry, from modeling to acting, has always been ran by men who use their power and influence to exchange sex for a gig. In my opinion, the media places the spotlight on cases where the alleged victims believe they will not be slunt-shamed, so that makes alleged Black offenders easier to demonize.

            Liked by 1 person

          • That is all too true. It’s no wonder in the movie industry, the term “casting couch” is used when it comes to actors/actresses figuratively or literally sleeping their way to the top regardless of its consensual or not. People’s careers have ended just because they dared to speak up. It should also raise red flags where entertainment bigwigs and major talent agencies are bankrolling #TimesUp since it could be seen as an insurance policy for the donors. That’s a good point about the demonization angle given the racist fallacious myth of the “scary black man” which was pure projection from the Slave Owners dating hundreds of years ago. I’m glad we can have these conversations about serious subjects.

            Liked by 1 person

          • Ospreyshire,
            Abuse of authority is rampant, and has been for decades. The 1959 version of the movie “Imitation of Life” touched on many issues, including sleeping to the top. The only reason the character got jobs in acting is because after she refused the casting director’s sexual advances, they ended up getting married.

            Yes, demonization and dehumanization are psychological conditions embedded in America. There are people, Whites, who truly want to believe in equality, but some are still caught-up in assumptions because of ignorance.

            Liked by 1 person

          • No disagreements there. I’ve never seen that movie, but it’s surprising that they would bring up that subject in the 50s no less. Looks like things never change.

            There’s no doubt about it. Being anti-any race/ethnicity is very counterproductive. It’s true that there are White people who want equality and really mean it. My Caucasian dad would be one as biased as I sound and a few of my White friends have told me their eyes were opened when I told them some of my experiences being discriminated and dehumanized. One YouTuber I’ve been following lately is Dixon White. He’s a self-proclaimed former racist who wants there to be equality and to challenge White Supremacy. He seems really legit and I give him props for talking about his story while also mentioning things like Black Wall Street, Rosewood, and even The Devil’s Punchbowl on his latest video about the Rosanne situation.

            Liked by 1 person

          • There were several movies released in the 50’s with controversial themes. It slowed down some in the 60’s, and were replaced with blaxploitation movies, some which addressed injustices and inequalities by symbolism, and others that were just for entertainment, intended to attract Black movie goers.

            In my opinion, the best way for Whites to experience racism against POC, is to go to public places with their Black friends or relatives. The tone and emotions are experienced first-hand. Or now, they can just listen to Donald Trump as he refers to Black football players as “sons of bitches” or predominately Black countries as “shit holes”.

            I’ll see if I can find Dixon White on Youtube. Thanks for the reference.

            Liked by 1 person

          • Gotcha. As someone who has a film background, I’m surprised I didn’t watch enough movies in the 50s film scene besides the mainstream stuff or films by Akira Kurosawa. I haven’t seen as much of the Blaxploitation scenes, but I heard there are some good movies out there in that genre.

            That’s not a bad idea. I think those situations could also be secret tests of character if done right.

            Here’s his channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCxrwoWJ8cYyW9U8Fik7yATw

            Liked by 1 person

          • Thanks so much for the link.

            Liked by 1 person

          • No problem. He has some really cool videos about current events, anti-racism, unity, body shaming, elitism, and his “I’m a Redneck and Love America” is funny, yet rings so true.

            Liked by 1 person

          • In November 2013, I blogged about the 1951 film, “The Well”. It is poignant, timely, and before its time. After first seeing it in the 1970’s while researching Black films, you can only imagine how happy I was to find it on DVD some years ago.

            Here’s the trailer for a movie released in 1964. It was an independent film and didn’t get much publicity in the U.S. “Nothing But A Man” is another film that is timely, and before its time, in my opinion.

            Liked by 1 person

          • Very cool. I just read your article about The Well. I’ll also check out Nothing But a Man.

            Liked by 1 person

          • “The Well” used to be available on Youtube — the full movie, but the channel was deleted. 😦 I think the full movie “Nothing But A Man” is still available on youtube.

            Liked by 1 person

          • Gotcha. I’ll let you know if/when I check out either.

            Liked by 1 person

          • I didn’t know you have a film background. How marvelous! Do you have a special genre that you like?

            Liked by 1 person

          • Yes, I do. I’ve done some video projects for people and my degree involved video production and film history. Most of the stuff I watch and like involves foreign films, indie flicks, anime, documentaries, art house stuff, and experimental movies. Interestingly enough, I have a review blog on WordPress called Iridium Eye. Even though I’m taking a brief hiatus from it, I have 190+ reviews on there and I focus on movies that aren’t well known. I’ve covered films from 6 continents, focus on independent movies you won’t hear about in the mainstream, and some reviews even touch on movie plagiarism controversies. Feel free to check it out. http://iridiumeye.wordpress.com

            Liked by 1 person

          • Wow Ospreyshire, you’ve given me plenty to read and catch-up on. Thanks so much.

            Liked by 1 person

          • Thanks! Feel free to read the reviews and articles on there. You might find something you would like on there. Thanks for following that blog, too!

            Liked by 1 person

          • No, THANK YOU! I’m happy you told me about it.

            Liked by 1 person

          • You’re welcome. Hahaha! This other blog has been a fun hobby over the past year spotlighting some lesser-known movies from around the world. There are some scenes I have been delving into more often even in my hiatus. I’ve been watching more documentaries and getting into Nollywood stuff lately.

            Liked by 1 person

  5. Liked by 2 people

  6. seriously wrong!
    citizens drinking
    the koolaide of hate
    & ignorance
    make this society
    a threat to
    survival of all 😦

    Liked by 3 people

  7. Reblogged this on Aspen Tree Book Reviews and commented:
    I’m the “you CANNOT be serious, what the F… is happening to our country” category. And btw, if you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Mama Cass,
      Thanks for the reblog.
      What’s happening to our country? It’s slapping citizens in the face. When I heard of this case, it took me back to 1977 and the murder of Jose Campos Torres in Houston,Texas by officers who were tried on state murder charges. They were convicted of negligent homicide and received one year of probation and a $1 fine. When brought before the federal court on murder charges, they were sentenced to a mere 9 months. Torres was a Vietnam Vet.

      Such case decisions are intended to discourage citizens, just like in this case. It’s oppression via the judicial system.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. The jury should have been dismissed and labeled tainted. The award was an affront that implied bias in their verdict. Hopefully there is an appeal.

    Our courts are broken. There is no justice for people of color. It’s hit or miss.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Angela,
      Unfortunately, until the jury entered its decision, it was not known that they were tainted. Yes, I too hope that there is an appeal.

      While the media reports on these type of decisions, what they don’t report on are decisions in medical malpractice cases. Those are reported mostly in newsletters by Bar associations, and the pattern has been like we see in this case where juries award $1.00 even after concluding that malpractice was committed.

      What seems to be the determining factor is prejudicial bias against plaintiffs based on the color of their skin, or disability, or financial status. It seems to help some people think they are better than those seeking redress, and giving them power to decide the case is giving them power to use their ideologies of superiority.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Xena, that’s an excellent point about medical malpractice. It’s sad to hear juries doing the same.

        With medical malpractice, it is difficult for people of color to hire a malpractice lawyer. Many will not work on contingency unless there was catastrophic damage. A friend of mine sister died from medical malpractice, and no lawyer would accept the case despite the hospital essentially conceding negligence.

        What can POC do when white businesses refuse to represent you or jack up the cost to do so and then represent you poorly?

        Liked by 1 person

        • Angela,

          “What can POC do when white businesses refuse to represent you or jack up the cost to do so and then represent you poorly?”

          It’s all part of systemic oppression.

          There are young lawyers who are motivated, but having to pay student loans brings them to reality. Additionally, there’s a practice in legal communities for lawyers to charge the same “going rate” which means that lawyers cannot reduce their fees, and all it takes is for a majority to raise retainers for that to become the “norm”.


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