The alternatives to shooting Seth Adams that Sgt. Michael Custer could have tried – ranging from pepper spray to just driving away – are an emerging part of a legal fight over their 2012 fatal confrontation.
Five years after the shooting, the Adams family is in federal court pursuing an excessive force and wrongful death lawsuit against Custer and the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office.
During the first week of the trial, the Adams family attorneys have emphasized how Custer, who was undercover, left behind non-lethal weapons when he got out of his unmarked SUV to confront Adams during their late-night encounter.
Custer maintains that it was Adams who started the violent confrontation that night and that there wasn’t time to reach for his baton, chemical spray or flashlight.
“Things happen. They happen quickly in the field,” Custer said during videotaped deposition from 2014, which was shown in court this week. “You can’t control everything.”
Adams family attorney Wallace McCall has questioned why Custer didn’t call the nursery phone number – posted on a no-parking sign in the parking lot – to let the family know he was parking there during his surveillance patrol.
“Sgt. Custer didn’t let anyone know he was parked there,” McCall said during opening statements. “He was trespassing.”
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