Dashcam video has emerged of a 2013 incident showing a Florida sheriff’s deputy shooting an unarmed cyclist in the back, leaving him paralyzed from the waist down.
The footage shows 22-year-old Dontrell Stephens(who was 20 at the time) being shot four times after he was followed while riding a bicycle in West Palm Beach by Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Deputy Adams Lin.
Lin said he pursued Stephens to ticket him for impeding traffic while crossing a street on his bicycle and opened fire because Stephens reached into his waistband and he thought he was armed.
The dashcam video shows Stephens stop his bike next to a house after realizing he is being followed by the squad car, which pulls up sharply behind him. Carrying a mobile phone in his right hand, he walks off camera toward the deputy.
Stephens appears in view again seconds later with his back to the officer as shots ring out.
Watch the raw footage:
Police initially alleged that Stephens assaulted the officer, even though he never touched him, and insisted Stephens refused to obey an order to get on the ground.
No such command is heard on the video.
“I feel bad for what happened, but I was not the cause of what happened,” Officer Lin said at the time.
State prosecutors initially ruled Lin was justified in opening fire. He was allowed to return to work four days later.
Stephens was left a paraplegic by his injuries.
The video was released as part of a lawsuit Stephens filed against the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office.
According to those filings, Lin’s internal affairs file contains “numerous use of force reports, citizen complaints and incident reviews.”
“Adams Lin literally had a few seconds to decide what was in Stephens’ hand,” said a lawyer representing Lin.
Lin said Stephens was suspicious because he had not seen the cyclist in the neighborhood before.