WEST PALM BEACH – As head of the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office Violent Crimes division, it was Captain Michael Wallace’s job in 2012 to talk to family members of people harmed or killed in officer-involved shootings.
In May of that year, Wallace told a federal jury Monday, it was left to him to call Lydia Adams and offer, on behalf of the agency, condolences over Sgt. Michael Custer’s fatal shooting of her 24-year-old son, Seth.
Testifying as the first defense witness in Lydia and Richard Adams’ multi-million dollar lawsuit against Custer and the sheriff’s office, Wallace denied claims from Adams family attorneys that a reference to an “evil plan” in an email concerning the shooting investigation had any connection to the subsequent loss of Custer’s department-issued cell phone.
But first, Wallace described Lydia Adams’ reaction on the morning he called her, told her he was sorry for her son’s death and said he had some information for her.
“She called me a murderer,” Wallace recalled. “I said I understand that. She said I don’t need anything from you. I said I understand that.”
Wallace said Lydia Adams made a reference to an attorney then, but it would be nearly two years before Adams’ family would file a lawsuit.
Earlier Monday, Lydia Adams ended her turn on the witness stand, after beginning Thursday, by telling jurors she and her husband filed the suit to hold Custer and his employers accountable.
She was in tears as she recalled becoming violently ill over the news of her son’s shooting. She told jurors, just as attorney Wallace McCall had described for them at the start of the trial last month, that she tried to rush to her son’s side after catching a glimpse of his lifeless, blood-covered body on a gurney at St. Mary’s Hospital, only to be thrown to the ground by a crime scene investigator who described the 24-year-old as “evidence.” Earlier in the trial, the crime scene investigator denied throwing her to the ground.
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