On the night Seth Adams was shot dead by Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Sgt. Michael Custer, he had gone to Boonies Restaurant & Lounge in Loxahatchee Groves, which was hosting a beer pong tournament to raise money for the family of a young man who had been killed in a motorcycle accident.
Eliminated in the first round of the drinking game, the 24-year-old left around 11:30 p.m. after wishing the night manager well. On the way home, he called his girlfriend, who was out of town competing in a dressage horseback-riding tournament. Unable to reach her, he left a message, saying he missed her.
The vision of Adams as a easygoing guy — a talented musician who loved cats and cooking — was painted Tuesday in U.S. District Court by an attorney who is representing Adams’ parents, of Palm Bay, in a multi-million-dollar wrongful death lawsuit against the sheriff’s office and Custer. If the jury awards damages, both Custer and the tax-funded sheriff’s office would be responsible for payment.
In opening statements to the jury, the Adamses’ attorney, Wallace McCall, readily acknowledged that his account of Adams’ demeanor on May 16, 2012 contrasts sharply with Custer’s description of the man he encountered in the parking lot of A One Stop Garden Shop on Okeechobee Boulevard and A Road, where Adams lived and worked.
The reason, McCall told jurors, is simple: Custer is lying and the sheriff’s office conspired to cover up what really happened. “A shooting cannot be reasonable or justified if it’s based on a lie,” McCall told the jury as Richard and Lydia Adams, sometimes tearfully, looked on.
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