However, Scarola says Stephens had a hard life after he was paralyzed from being shot by police. At the time of his death, Stephens had been in a hospital for three weeks leading up to his death.
“I hope that as a consequence of the resolution of his case that he had some relief. But whatever relief he had was very short-lived,” Scarola added.
Stephens was left paralyzed from the waist down after Deputy Adams Lin shot him in 2013, CBS 12 reports. Lin pursued Stephens after seeing him cut across traffic while riding his bike, alleging he thought Stephens was reaching for a weapon when he fired his service weapon. Although, it was only a cellphone. Stephens testified in the case with the bullet still lodged in his back and said his hands were up at the time of the shooting.
Stephens sued and initially won $22 million when a federal jury ruled Lin’s use of force unjustified. In 2020, Gov. DeSantis signed into law a $6 million claims bill for Stephens. He was awarded $4.5 million to go into a trust fund and $1.5 million toward outstanding unpaid medical bills. Stephens reportedly bought a house and a van, according to the Palm Beach Post. According to the news outlet, some of the funds were in an annuity that Port St. Lucie attorney Evett Simmons administered. State Representative Omari Hardy released a statement in response to Stephens’ death.
“He might still have been here if Sheriff Bradshaw hadn’t fought to deny him the money that he needed to get care after the shooting. The Sheriff needs to do some soul-searching and acknowledge the role that he and his agency have played in this tragedy.”