Statement on the Mistrial – Sgt. Custer/Seth Adams TrailZimichi
First and foremost there are no winners in this civil trial. The Adams Family lost a son, and Sgt. Custer and his family have endured a great deal of stress and emotional pressure. No one wants this to happen to any Family.
It is disappointing that the jury could not reach a verdict today. Sgt. Michael Custer has worked as a law enforcement officer for approximately 24 years. He has served this community proudly and honorably. He worked as a tactical agent for approximately 3 years, performing undercover operations. The unfortunate tragic encounter on May 16, 2012, resulted in Sgt. Custer’s use of deadly force when he reasonably believed his own life was in jeopardy.
The investigation of Sgt. Custer’s actions was reviewed by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, which took several additional statements in the case and determined that the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office investigation was sufficient, thorough and in conformance with generally accepted investigative procedures. In addition, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement noted that when they investigate officer involved shooting incidents they require the State Attorney’s Office to make the final determination on whether to file criminal charges against the involved officer. Furthermore, the State Attorney’s Office, which employs its own law enforcement investigators, who were present at the scene during the several stages of the investigation conducted by the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office, concluded that Sgt. Custer’s use of deadly force was justified.
The primary issue the jury in this civil trial was attempting to reach a verdict on was whether Sgt. Michael Custer intentionally used excessive deadly force upon Seth Adams on May 16, 2012. The Court properly dismissed the Plaintiff’s civil rights claim against the Sheriff’s Office before trial because there was no evidence to support a claim that the Sheriff’s Office’s customs, policies, practices and procedures could have caused the use of excessive deadly force in this case. As a result, the jury was not asked to decide any claims against the Sheriff’s Office regarding its customs, policies, practices or procedures related to officer involved shootings.
It is unfortunate that the jury could not reach a verdict today.