May 15, 2017

Sheriff's officials in Florida have agreed to pay $2.5 million to the family of an unarmed nurseryman shot dead by a sergeant five years ago. Attorneys for the family of Seth Adams announced the settlement with the Palm Beach Sheriff's office Monday.

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) — The parents of an unarmed man fatally shot by a Florida sheriff's sergeant at the family's nursery announced Monday that they have agreed to a $2.5 million settlement and called for the reopening of a criminal investigation into their son's death.

Dick and Lydia Adams said the payment by the Palm Beach Sheriff's Office is only partial justice for the May 16, 2012, shooting of Seth Adams, 24, by Sgt. Michael Custer. Local and federal prosecutors should now re-examine the case and charge Custer with a crime, they said. A previous investigation by the sheriff's office cleared Custer, although the federal judge who presided over the family's lawsuit has since called the probe "slipshod."

"Our attorneys with the help of forensic experts proved with the evidence that Sgt. Custer lied and (the sheriff's office) covered up his misconduct," Dick Adams said. "This case has brought to light the inability of the (sheriff's office) to conduct an appropriate and thorough investigation."

The sheriff's office did not immediately respond to a phone call and emails seeking comment, nor did the Palm Beach State Attorney's Office or federal prosecutors. The sheriff's office recently settled at least three other lawsuits involving questionable shootings, agreeing to pay a combined $2.7 million. In February 2016, a jury awarded $22 million to a young black man left paralyzed after a deputy mistook his cellphone for a gun and shot him. That verdict is being appealed. No criminal charges were filed in any of those cases.

The announcement of the Adams settlement came one day before the five-year anniversary of his death and two months after a federal civil jury deadlocked 8-1 in the family's favor. The family had been seeking between $10 million and $20 million and a retrial had been scheduled for the summer.

"I miss my boy. We have been given a life sentence, a life sentence to grieve his loss," said Lydia Adams, weeping.

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