Seth Adams

New Evidence in Seth Adams 'Nothing to See Here' Police Shooting Won't Be Considered If It's From Family Attorneys

An attorney for the Adams family says witness testimony, forensic evidence, and the cop's performance reviews all suggest shooting wasn't justified.

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Seth Adams
family photo

The Washington Post's Radley Balko has updates on the 2012 killing of 24-year-old Seth Adams by Michael Custer, a Palm Beach county sheriff's deputy, which was ruled justified after the county sheriff, Ric Bradshaw, said that investigation would "verify exactly what I thought from the beginning."

The attorney for the Adams family says he's found new evidence in the shooting: a police witness who said the interaction was "peaceful" just 90 seconds before the shooting (appearing to contradict Custer's claim that Adams was belligerent from the beginning, when he found the undercover cop lurking in the parking lot of his family business late at night), a blood trail beginning behind the Adams' truck (suggesting he wasn't shot while reaching for something on the driver's side, as Custer claimed), and a review that found Custer had "difficulty assessing critical incidents and making sound decisions under pressure," a review state investigators were not given.

Balko writes:

There are more questions here. Why isn't the state's attorney's office investigating the sheriff's department for reportedly lying about the existence of Custer's employee evaluations? And why did FDLE investigators take the department at its word that those evaluations didn't exist? An investigator for the Adams family was able to obtain them through an open-records request. Shouldn't a state agency charged with investigating police shootings be a bit more skeptical of the targets of its investigations?

Worse, the state's attorney, a new one, will only consider new evidence if it's presented by a law enforcement agency. As Balko points out:

No matter how compelling new evidence uncovered by attorneys for the Adams family may be, Aronberg won't consider it. It must come from one of the law enforcement agencies involved. That is, either the sheriff's department for whom Custer worked, which promoted Custer despite serious questions about his temperament and decision-making, whose sheriff has supported Custer from the start, and which failed to turn over Custer's personnel files . . . or the state agency that failed to uncover all of these things during its own investigation.

Lawmakers in at least 12 states are proposing different kinds of bills aimed at police reform—40 in Missouri alone. In Florida, a bill proposed by two state legislators, Democrats Shevrin Jones and Alan Williams, would mandate patrol officers use body cameras and exempt such use from wiretapping laws.

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  1. Balko can kick you in the nuts when he’s not even with Reason anymore. WFT?!

  2. Given that Custer has a history of bad decisions, this may indeed be his last stand.

  3. Nothing like a good, old-fashioned Balko nutpunch. Yessir, that right there’s the stuff.

    No matter how compelling new evidence uncovered by attorneys for the Adams family may be, Aronberg won’t consider it. It must come from one of the law enforcement agencies involved.

    Is… is this even legal? What kind of amoral sociopath do you have to be in order to think this is the right thing to do?

    1. The kind attracted to government work.

  4. and a review that found Custer had “difficulty assessing critical incidents and making sound decisions under pressure,” a review state investigators were not given.

    To me, this is more damning than the 11th hour witness.

    I’m always suspicious of witnesses brought forth late in the game, even if they support my conception of the events.

    Why isn’t the state’s attorney’s office investigating the sheriff’s department for reportedly lying about the existence of Custer’s employee evaluations?

    Again, while I find this damning, is it possible that past evidence of wrongdoing is legally neither here-nor-there? Of course, this wasn’t a “legal proceeding” but an internal administrative review, so I agree that Custer’s past job performance is both here, there, and pretty much everywhere.

    Aronberg won’t consider it. It must come from one of the law enforcement agencies involved.

    Make a sentence with the following words:

    Guarding Fox House Hen The

    1. Rule 404. Character Evidence; Crimes or Other Acts
      (a) Character Evidence.

      (1) Prohibited Uses. Evidence of a person’s character or character trait is not admissible to prove that on a particular occasion the person acted in accordance with the character or trait.

      (2) Exceptions for a Defendant or Victim in a Criminal Case. The following exceptions apply in a criminal case:

      (A) a defendant may offer evidence of the defendant’s pertinent trait, and if the evidence is admitted, the prosecutor may offer evidence to rebut it;

      (B) subject to the limitations in Rule 412, a defendant may offer evidence of an alleged victim’s pertinent trait, and if the evidence is admitted, the prosecutor may:

      (i) offer evidence to rebut it; and

      (ii) offer evidence of the defendant’s same trait; and

      (C) in a homicide case, the prosecutor may offer evidence of the alleged victim’s trait of peacefulness to rebut evidence that the victim was the first aggressor.

      (3) Exceptions for a Witness. Evidence of a witness’s character may be admitted under Rules 607, 608, and 609.

    2. b) Crimes, Wrongs, or Other Acts.

      (1) Prohibited Uses. Evidence of a crime, wrong, or other act is not admissible to prove a person’s character in order to show that on a particular occasion the person acted in accordance with the character.

      (2) Permitted Uses; Notice in a Criminal Case. This evidence may be admissible for another purpose, such as proving motive, opportunity, intent, preparation, plan, knowledge, identity, absence of mistake, or lack of accident. On request by a defendant in a criminal case, the prosecutor must:

      (A) provide reasonable notice of the general nature of any such evidence that the prosecutor intends to offer at trial; and

      (B) do so before trial ? or during trial if the court, for good cause, excuses lack of pretrial notice.

  5. Fucking nutkicking sonofabitch.

    Has Balko been at the WaPo this whole time?

    1. He started at WaPo in January 2014.

  6. Apropos of nothing, solely offered for entertainment purposes, this is from the Palm Beach County State Attorney’s Web site:

    “The grand jury in addition to the duty of formally indicting those charged with crime has the further important duty of making investigations on its own initiative, which it will report as a presentment. This duty permits investigation of how public officials are conducting their offices and discharging their public trusts. The grand jury may investigate as to whether public institutions are being properly administered and conducted. It has the power to inspect those institutions and, if necessary, may call before the grand jury those in charge of the operations of public institutions as well as any other person who has information and can testify concerning them. If the grand jury finds that an unlawful, improper, or corrupt condition exists, it may recommend a remedy.”

  7. How does this comment reconcile with itself?

    2/6/2015 11:45 AM EST
    Keep up the good reporting on these issues. Police are a necessary part of a civilized life, but their actions require constant scrutiny. They have shown time and again that they can not be trusted to police themselves.

    1. I dunno, I don’t see it as requiring reconciliation. I think that police are part of civilized life, but you can administer them in such a way where accountability goes out the window, which is what we’ve got going right now.

      How to write cops:

      “I think of a civilian, and I take away reason and accountability…”

  8. I think (SLDs aside) that it is time for cities and counties to create an entirely parallel legal bodies just to investigate the actions of the government, complete with the abilities to investigate, bring charges, issue subpoenas, and so forth, and who’s members are voted on directly by the communities they serve. Trusting anyone to police themselves is folly of the highest order, and for government, with it’s powers, is the worst. This wouldn’t be perfect, but it would be a hell of a lot better than the bullshit we have now.

    1. issue subpoenas, and so forth, and who’s members are voted on directly by the communities they serve.

      That might not turn out as well as you’d think. Given the mass acquittals and generally high level of community support for all things police, I’m not sure the revolution is upon us.

  9. To bad Seth didn’t rob a liquor store or assault someone before getting murdered.

    If he had the legacy media may have taken an interest in the case.

    1. Seth needed to really work on his tan is he wanted any attention.

  10. Why isn’t the state’s attorney’s office investigating the sheriff’s department for reportedly lying about the existence of Custer’s employee evaluations?

    Gosh, that’s a hard one.

  11. OT: Why did President Obama deliver a “message” at the Grammy Awards. I didn’t watch, but I just popped over to Youtube and it’s prominently displayed there. Why? Are the Grammy types so bowled over by Obama that they must include Dear Leader in an awards show for people who play catchy tunes on the radio?

    1. Are the Grammy types so bowled over by Obama that they must include Dear Leader in an awards show for people who play catchy tunes on the radio?

      Oh, I think we all know the answer to that question.

      Yes, plus Obama would rather be a celbrity than president.

      1. plus Obama would rather be a celbrity than president.

        Well then, job well done!

  12. No matter how compelling new evidence uncovered by attorneys for the Adams family may be, Aronberg won’t consider it.

    In P Brooks -topia, Aronberg would be escorted from his office in handcuffs by the FBI and charged with obstruction of justice and malfeasance in office.

    1. And this would be the only way to fix this problem. If the electorate were capable of putting up an oversight committee a la Dances-with-Trolls, then they wouldn’t have elected this set of AG/sheriff/police chief to start with.

      Democracy makes sure you get the government you deserve?

  13. “difficulty assessing critical incidents and making sound decisions under pressure,”

    Is this the cop euphamism for “panicky little bitch prone to panic fire anytime his authoritay is questioned”?

  14. “Why isn’t the state’s attorney’s office investigating the sheriff’s department for reportedly lying about the existence of Custer’s employee evaluations? And why did FDLE investigators take the department at its word that those evaluations didn’t exist? ”

    Do you really have to ask?

    BFYTW.

    1. BYOFY?

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