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.


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.