Police Abuse

Palm Beach Sheriff's Office Loses Cellphone, Laptop of Cop Who Shot and Killed Seth Adams

Judge could award case to family as punitive sanction.

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family photo

On the night of May 16, 2012, Seth Adams stopped at his family business on his way home because he saw an unmarked vehicle parked there even though the business was closed and there was nothing else at that intersection. The unmarked vehicle was a cop car, and the officer inside, who police said was conducting surveillance, ended up shooting and killing Adams, who was unarmed. Police said the officer, Michael Custer, was "forced" to shoot. According to the family's attorney, police had blocked medical personnel from getting to Adams while he lay in the parking lot dying.

In the civil case against Custer filed by Adams' family, attorneys for the Palm Beach County Sheriff's office say Custer's laptop and cellphone, key evidence, is missing. They don't know what happened to the cellphone and say the sheriff's office destroyed the laptop. With the only evidence remaining being Custer's account, which appears to have been carefully coordinated with his attorney, lawyers for the sheriff's office want the case dropped. The judge in the case, Daniel Hurley, said he found the admission "troubling" and "deeply shocking." There will be an evidentiary hearing on what happened to the missing evidence, and the judge says he could impose punitive sanctions, including awarding the case to the Adams family.

Earlier this year, Adam's family attorneys said they had found new evidence, including witness testimony, forensic evidence, and a performance review that had found Custer made poor decisions under pressure, that should be considered in a possible prosecution. The state's attorney's office say they'll only accept evidence from a law enforcement agency.

In a press conference after the shooting, Palm Beach County Sheriff Ric Bradshaw said there were "only two witnesses here: the suspect and the deputy. And the suspect was not able to be interviewed. Why he decided to assault the deputy? We may never know that." Four months later, the investigation cleared Custer. Bradshaw said the investigation would "verify exactly" what the sheriff thought had happened in the Adams shooting, and it did.

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  1. Holy shit. These people really do think they are above the law.

    A mere prole wouldn’t just be looking at losing the case, they’d be looking be looking at sanctions up to and including contempt of court.

    But the cops are basically saying “Welp, we destroyed a bunch of evidence, so you should dismiss the case.”

    1. And nothing else will happen.

    2. Of all the shit the DOJ does, this would probably be a case where I say they should intervene. If the cops of the town can get away this, there is no more rule of law.

    3. “A mere prole wouldn’t just be looking at losing the case, they’d be looking be looking at sanctions up to and including contempt of court.”

      You misspelled “prison”.

      1. “Contempt of court” involves prison a good deal of the time, you know.

        1. It involves Jail. I have not heard of it ever involving Prison but I could be wrong.

    4. Put the sheriff in jail until the laptop is turned over.

      Destroyed? Guess thats a life sentence then.

      1. Also, turnover the parts, I bet they didnt destroy it that well.

        1. I’m picturing something similar to that scene in Office Space where they drive the printer out to field and go apeshit on it with a baseball bat. Seems about right given the intelligence level of an average pig

    5. Holy Shit! These people ARE above the law.

      “The state’s attorney’s office say they’ll only accept evidence from a law enforcement agency.”

      Only accepting evidence from those you are investigating pretty much guarantees they will be above the law. And, that’s before you start adding in all the LEO bill of rights laws.

  2. The state’s attorney’s office say they’ll only accept evidence from a law enforcement agency.

    Well yeah I mean how else would you know it’s legit?

    1. Yeah, that’s very convenient, isn’t it?

    2. Who had every incentive not to gather it.

    3. so, you could send a video of a cop just walking up behind somebody and blowing their head off at a bus stop to the state’s attorney and to the local PD, and the state’s attorney would throw it away, and the local PD could just decline to forward it and . . . poof. No case, so sorry.

  3. In Florida, it’s legal to kill someone as long as you destroy any incriminating evidence and claim you were assaulted. Got it.

    1. It’s also fine to leave behind incriminating forensic evidence, because as long as it’s not collected by a cop, it won’t be admissible. This is beyond banana republic police state, I don’t even know what to call this.

    2. Doesn’t that work anywhere if you do a good enough job of destroying the evidence? Hard not to have reasonable doubt about a self defense claim with no witnesses. Ask Robert Durst.

      1. I would imagine there are situations where–absent any evidence except the time, place, and manner of death–one could still have reasonable doubt. For example, why would you be at your ex-wife’s house with a gun when she lives hundreds of miles away and has a restraining order against you?

  4. ” Bradshaw said the investigation would “verify exactly” what the sheriff thought had happened in the Adams shooting, and it did.”

    I bet he said that without even a hint of self awareness, didn’t he?

    1. It’s pretty easy when you are working backward from your conclusion, after all.

      1. Working backwards from your conclusion… like saying;

        “only two witnesses here: the suspect and the deputy. And the suspect was not able to be interviewed. Why he decided to assault the deputy? We may never know that.”

        1. Also, he misspelled “victim”.

  5. But we should ban guns because FEELZ, despite a continued drop in violent crime.

    Well, except for cops killing “civilians” – that seems to be sailing along just fine, thanks.

    Fuck tha police.

  6. PS Forgot

    We are winning!!! BOOYAH!

    1. where’s my smooches Al…

      YOU BASTARD!

  7. “Suspect”? What the fuck? What crime exactly was he suspected of?

    1. Failure to Respect Authoritah.

    2. P.O.P. (Pissing off the police.)

      1. Pissing Off Oppressive Police

        POOP

        1. Police Implementing Genocide

          Police Offering Reasonable Killings

          Belligerent Asshole Cops Offing Noncombatants (change last word for a racial flavor)

          Citizens Oppressed by Police

    3. Waking a sleeping cop. It’s worse than waking a sleeping baby.

      1. Well yeah, babies generally aren’t armed and tend to be in much moods when woken up from their nap prematurely.

        1. …much * better* moods…

        2. So, if I wake up a cop, I should slap a tit in his mouth as quick as I can?

    4. Suspected of interfering with police business. It was his own stupidity that got him shot – don’t bother the police!

      /Papaya

      1. No, this looks like a much more convincing case of police misconduct than some of trivial things that get posted.

  8. According to the family’s attorney, police had blocked medical personnel from getting to Adams while he lay in the parking lot dying.

    I believe that is something called “standard procedure.”

    1. Except if a non-cop does it it’s called “murder”.

    2. Its amazing how many of these cases we hear about where the cops either don’t call an ambulance, or actually prevent the paramedics from rendering aid.

      1. Even if the shooting is justified, such behavior constitutes distinct criminal and/or tortuous actions unto itself. Ok, you shot the guy because he pulled a gun on you. Fine, let’s accept that as legitimate for the sake of argument. Why is your first call after firing your weapon to your union representative and not to the paramedics?

        1. Because you grew up in Chappaquiddick?

          1. I’m not sure “at least as unaccountable as the Kennedy family” is going to be a winning motto for the police…

  9. Of course if Michael Custer was ever subjected to vengeance by the aggrieved family, it would be more evidence of the War on Cops.

    1. Yes, where are our resident apologists to explain why this is jes’ fine, jes’ fine.

  10. According to the family’s attorney, police had blocked medical personnel from getting to Adams while he lay in the parking lot dying.

    Following a simple order for medical personnel to ‘stay back’ had no consequences.

    1. Consequences are relative.

      “Palm Beach County Sheriff Ric Bradshaw said there were “only two witnesses here: the suspect and the deputy. And the suspect was not able to be interviewed.”

      So, good consequences for LEO’s. Isn’t that how it’s supposed to be? I mean, the officer did go home to his family didn’t he?

      1. I love that.

        I thought the deputy was the suspect.

        1. You’ve got it all wrong. The dead guy is presumed guilty. He obviously must have had it coming.

  11. The state’s attorney’s office say they’ll only accept evidence from a law enforcement agency.

    /facepalm/
    Apparently, when investigating a member of a law enforcement agency for criminal homicide, one should only trust evidence filtered through that law enforcement agency and just shrug your shoulders when they are unable to provide the basic evidence that everyone knows existed that may support their narrative of the events that occurred.

    1. As they said when they started the TSA, you can’t professionalize until you federalize! Clearly, only government is cut out for such things.

  12. There will be an evidentiary hearing on what happened to the missing evidence, and the judge says he could impose punitive sanctions, including awarding the case to the Adams family.

    Right, so the taxpayers pony up, but Custer avoids criminal prosecution.

    Custer, police department 1, citizens of Palm Beach: 0.

    1. As this IS an active investigation then that laptop IS actual evidence and they DID admit to destroying it. Honestly that is clear cut and should be jail time, loss of job, removal from public service, etc. for all involved.

      How can it not?

      (please I DO know how to spell FYTW)

      1. Mistakes were made, ignorance of the law is an excuse when you’re in law enforcement. QED.

        1. More training needed

          1. Why? They seem to know how to destroy evidence just fine.

  13. Earlier this year, Adam’s family attorneys said they had found new evidence, including witness testimony, forensic evidence, and a performance review that had found Custer made poor decisions under pressure, that should be considered in a possible prosecution. The state’s attorney’s office say they’ll only accept evidence from a law enforcement agency.

    How do the hens get the fox to agree to such terms?

  14. Because, duh, as we read around here, cops are often trigger-happy and/or sociopaths. So when they tell you to do something basic like “Move over there” or “Don’t interfere” or “Put your hands behind your back,” it’s a good idea to follow along.

    I really don’t get the attitude that one should be a pain in the ass to people with guns and authority, and then expect everything to come out roses. This is not the same as saying that we should all meekly bow to authority and give up our rights. But discretion is often the better part of valor, and the more confrontational people are with cops, the more excuses they have to “not take a chance” and treat you badly. “Stepping away” when a cop tells you to is hardly a violation of civil rights worth getting into a confrontation about.

    1. Needs more slashfic. But other than that you perfectly summarized yesterdays nut punch thread…thanks dick but I had already moved on to a NEW nut punch.

      1. Well, no. Again, there is nuance here. Try to follow: police are often attacked during innocuous-seeming events: disturbance calls, traffic stops, etc. They know this, so they tend to be on the alert and ready to use force. So, one part of reducing rights violations is to reduce the number of incidents which lead to violations of rights. The other parts are, as I’ve said, better training, better rules, weaker police unions, etc.

        So, it’s stupid to be confrontational about the “violation of your rights” involved in stepping a few feet away and shutting up for a bit, because 1) that’s an extremely minor violation of your rights (if it’s a violation at all), and 2) standing up for that very minor right risks a more serious violation of your rights, e.g. getting tased and arrested.

        1. standing up for that very minor right risks a more serious violation of your rights, e.g. getting tased and arrested.

          Or killed.

        2. This isn’t fair…you get to copy and paste and I have to keep from spewing coffee all over my keyboard.

          1. The difference between us is that I am not afraid to point to stupidity, regardless of who manifests it. I don’t care what color they are, or what their job is, or what their socio-economic status is. Stupid is stupid, and getting into confrontations with cops over trivial issues is stupid.

            1. SF, you must be the author of the Wu Tang MLPFM mash up…which was AWESOME!

              (for those who don’t know, go to the tubes, type MLP and Wu Tang. Watch video)

              1. I’m sorry that your pea-brain cannot stretch beyond name-calling to grasp the nuance I am trying to express.

                1. * stands and applauds *
                  * Raucous HUZZAH *

            2. Trivial issue. A man was investigating a suspicious vehicle on HIS property and the cop shot and killed him. How is that trivial? This instance isn’t about someone not moving along fast enough for the officers liking and getting shocked with a Taser. This one is about a cop trespassing on someone’s property, ostensibly doing ‘surveillance’. And, when he is rightfully questioned by the property owner, he shoots him. Now tell me, where in this story was the property owner being stupid? Was it when he rightfully questioned the unmarked, unknown persons presences on his property? Or was it when he was laying in a pool of his own blood? I’m sure you probably believe that “Adams lunged at Custer and tried to choke him” But, as the sheriff pointed out “only two witnesses here: the suspect and the deputy. And the suspect was not able to be interviewed.” Now we add to that narrative that crucial evidence has evaporated or been admittedly destroyed by the sheriff. Which seems pretty convenient for the officer. And, you are still trying to trivialize and blame a guy that did absolutely nothing wrong. And, calling him stupid for questioning a suspicious person ON HIS OWN PROPERTY I might add. I will never understand why people like you will believe everything a LEO says unless there is a notarized, crystal clear video of the officer standing over someone plugging them full of holes while yelling “GET SOME!” with spit spewing out of their mouths.

              1. Easy ATX. You were in the thread, so you should be in on the joke.

                1. I am now. But, didn’t figure it out until I had posted that.

        3. police are often attacked during innocuous-seeming events: disturbance calls, traffic stops, etc

          I really want to see the numbers on this.

          1. “You’re blaming the victim” is one of the dumber phrases around. Leftists misuse it all the time. Someone did something stupid and suffered as a direct result? Why, you are “blaming the victim” to point out the stupid part! You’re supposed to notice only the suffering at the end, not what led to it! Everyone knows that, by definition, victims are never to blame, in whole or even in part. If something bad happens, it’s always the fault of other people. Victims never make bad choices, and you’re just a meany to say so! You must be opposed to liberty!

            Yeah, right.

            1. We have NO IDEA whether or not Seth Adams “did something stupid.”

              And never will, now that all relevant evidence has been “lost.”

    2. It’s unwise to poke a tiger.

      1. I wouldn’t say “menacing.” Perhaps a little rude, but that’s about it. When cops are dealing with any kind of incident, they don’t want third parties interfering or even standing near them. That’s understandable, for reasons I should not have to explain. Doctors and nurses are the same way. It’s hardly a measurable loss of freedom for the people asked to move.

        1. I will say this: PSF is not Dipshit Who Shall Not Be Named. I honestly believe PSF is trying to have a tactics discussion in good faith. Even though I think his tactics are actually the very thing cause more of this shit by emboldening the heathens it must be said he made a good argument for HIS side of a tactics discussion. But other than that how did you like the play Ms. Lincoln?

          1. That would depend. Are you referring to a specific incident? I can imagine some in which it would be a reasonable request, and some in which it would not be.

            1. Seriously, I am about to piss my pants over here.

              1. Like many ideologues, you lose the nuance in your rush to cram reality into your pre-fabricated boxes.

          2. I honestly believe PSF is trying to have a tactics discussion in good faith.

            I think so, too. To some extent, we were having a discussion about what is “prudent” to do (submit to the man with the gun, every time), and what is the “right” thing to do.

            When you live in a society where the prudent thing to do is also the wrong thing to do, something is seriously wrong.

            1. Thank you. Of course I am arguing in good faith. SugarFree’s simple-minded mockery is misplaced, because this case looks like real police misconduct. Which I’ve always said is a real problem. I don’t disagree with the general consensus on such cases.

              I do disagree with the reluctance to acknowledge that a lot of police abuse can be avoided by simple and prudent manners. You have the right to do many things that are bad ideas. Saying: “Don’t do that, it’s a bad idea” is not the same as denying you your rights, or supporting tyranny, or saying you should never stand up for your rights, and all the other extremist blather. Lighten up, Francis.

              Far too many of these stories turn out to be Darwin Award winners: “Yes, my son did lead the cops on a high-speed chase and get into a fistfight with them when caught, and tried to grab one cop’s gun, but he didn’t deserve to die!” Maybe not, lady, but his actions had a lot to do with it. There is nothing contradictory or anti-libertarian in both objecting to specific police actions and at the same time pointing out that the victim’s actions had something do with what happened to him.

              In this case, I can’t even imagine how it went down. I can’t imagine what Adams could have done to make a cop shoot him. It seems bizarre. And there’s no excuse for the missing pieces of evidence or blocking medical aid. It does seem like a clear case of police misconduct, unlike Councilman “No, I won’t step aside because these are my friends!!”

              1. Papaya,

                The problem is you are trying to figure out a rational response in a situation that is inherently irrational.

                Police are intentionally trying to trigger the instinctual ‘fight or flight’ response. We have enough history to know that immediate surrender doesn’t increase your odds of survival. Rationality and good faith ain’t got nothin’ to do with it.

                1. True, if a cop is intentionally trying to provoke you as an excuse to bust you, yeah, being polite may not help. But it did not look like that in the video of the tased councilman. He chose to ignore what they repeatedly told him to do, and got tased. In my (apparently wildly unpopular) view, whether or not the cop “had the right” to ask him to step away, not stepping away when asked was a bad idea. Not because I am eager to grovel to authority, but because it’s a trivial and understandable request, and because I don’t think that’s a good hill to die on. And I think the results confirmed my point of view.

    3. “Stepping away” when a cop tells you to is hardly a violation of civil rights worth getting into a confrontation about.

      See my comment above. I pointed out in the PapayaSF thread last night that sometimes following a simple order like “step away” could have grave consequences when LEO tells that to an EMT trying to perform life-saving treatment on someone bleeding out.

      1. Jeebus, Reason is really good at finding cases like this to trumpet as “police brutality” while ignoring the stupid actions of the civilians which led directly to the incident.

        So a guy doesn’t comply with a reasonable request to step away, struggles when they grab him, doesn’t put his hands behind his back when ordered to, and gets tased. Now everyone can argue about the appropriateness of this use of a taser, use their confirmation bias to file this under “Yet more police brutality,” and call anyone who disagrees a “cop-sucker.” Yeah, whatever.

        Meanwhile, the country continues to go bankrupt, continues to import welfare cases and outright criminals, and a dangerously large proportion of the electorate thinks the answer to our problems lies in more socialism. And I’m supposed to be upset that a confrontational asshole got tased? OK, confrontational asshole, I don’t think you should have been tased. You poor baby, your rights were violated! But you know the easiest way to avoid being tased? Don’t be a confrontational asshole to people with tasers.

        1. That’s plagiarism, SF, straight up.

          1. That is entirely possible.

            1. or copyright infringement.

              1. Cripes, on a rare instance when you’re not filling a thread with ravings, you’re going to call me names.

                1. In all seriousness I WAS a little worried about AC. He was WAY too lucid. Perhaps he has entered a depressive state. We should send narcotics and amphetamines to him.

                  1. In all seriousness, a pissed off AC threatening to open your skull like a soft-boiled egg would be both very credible and very frightening. No wonder the kid ponied up the quarter.

        2. Tell me about the last time you fought the cops, tough guy. Yeah, I didn’t think so. Pussy. Meanwhile, those of us who are smart do exactly as we’re told and continue to be absolutely free. Are there problems with the police? Sure. But there aren’t any problems that submitting unconditionally won’t solve.

          1. you paraphrased. Cheater!

            1. No, he is not paraphrasing me.

    4. I really don’t get the attitude that one should be a pain in the ass to people with guns and authority, and then expect everything to come out roses.

      Don’t confuse power with authority. Cops have the power to literally do whatever they want. After all, who’s going to stop them? The cops?

      Their authority derives from their law enforcement duties. No crime? No authority.

      Though they still have the power to shoot you, use force to prevent medics from saving your life, and then destroy incriminating evidence. Because nothing else will happen.

      It’s wise to not tempt fate.

      1. Garner did not “ask a cop what he was doing.” Garner knew what they were going to do: arrest him. He didn’t want to be arrested, and resisted. Police handled it badly and over-reacted, he did not deserve to die, his “crime” was negligible, but again, it would not have happened if he hadn’t resisted arrest.

      2. methinks you need read the Rice thread from yesterday…unlike Warty Hugeman, this is not original work.

        1. Poe’s law has destroyed me. I can’t tell what’s real and what’s fake any longer.

          1. I am real, but my love is not.

  15. So looking back, I’m getting curious about something.

    Is there any officer involved in a shooting who hasn’t “won numerous awards”? Is that the entire point of police “awards”?

    1. Awards, and a pension.

  16. Judge Hurley will not make any decision on whether or not to throw out the case until he learns exactly how key evidence went missing and who is responsible. Judge Hurley said he was, “deeply disturbed” that this evidence was not available, “the community should be deeply disturbed,” he said.

    I assume awarding the case to the family would be subject to appeal.

    1. I don’t get how a judge can award a criminal case to the victim’s family. Now, on the civil side, I believe the judge would be within his discretion to sanction the defendants based on their conduct and would not be overturned on appeal.

      1. This is a civil case, though.

      2. See Double, you are having some comprehension problems today. Can’t decide if they are real, or feigned.

        1. They were real. I was distracted. Been really busy lately.

  17. I eagerly await the media to freakout over this killing of an unarmed white man at the hands of a racist white cop. Oh wait, there’s no way to tie into the “white people are racist murderers” narrative? Nothing to see here.

  18. Let’s not forget:

    The police were on their property without legal authority, or permission. They were trespassers, who gunned down the property owner when asked to leave.

    Then destroyed the evidence.

    And I believe that they are genuinely offended that they are being questioned about any of this. That’s how entitled they are.

    1. Did they have a warrant? Not that these cops believe they would ever need one, given their conduct.

      1. He was sitting in an unmarked car conducting “surveillance” (because drugs). No warrant.

        1. It would seem to depend on the status of the property on which the cop sat, i.e., was it public or private? Because in my mind (though the law may differ), if it was private then he needed a warrant. Otherwise he was a trespasser.

          1. It would seem to depend on the status of the property on which the cop sat, i.e., was it public or private?

            I don’t know of any individual people or families that actually own public property. Do you?

      2. Nope. No warrant. But that doesn’t matter. If a cop trespasses without a warrant, all that means is that any evidence gathered is not legal. As far as the cop breaking the law goes, that doesn’t matter. They do what they want. Who’s going to stop them? The cops?

    2. The police were on their property without legal authority, or permission. They were trespassers, who gunned down the property owner when asked to leave.

      Remember when Tulpa started a stupid fight complaining about the term “under color of law” being applied to criminal cops? I seem to remember him saying essentially that if the cops do it , it’s legal.

  19. Felony evidence tampering that would result in multi-year prison sentences for us peons.

    1. How many divisions do the peons have?

      1. Enough to field 200M small arms?

        1. TEAM BLUE is working on that. Funny how they seem ‘concerned’ with police brutality.

  20. why is it becoming so common for these cases to involve denial of medical care to the person dying?

    1. I dunno. Ask a cop.

      Do they block medical services because they are trained to, or because they just enjoy doing it? I can’t think of any other options.

    2. To eliminate the witness?

  21. Palm Beach County Sheriff Ric Bradshaw said there were “only two witnesses here: the suspect and the deputy. And the suspect was not able to be interviewed.

    Look, your deputy is getting off scott free from killing the guy, you don’t have to be snarky about it. Christ, what an asshole.

    1. That kind of mockery of somebody that you gunned down is right up there with the “I CAN Breathe” shirts the cops were sporting recently.

      And they wonder why they are viewed by all sane people with a mixture of fear and hate.

      1. They don’t wonder at all. That is the way they like it.

        They are trained to play the “benevolent enforcer” act because they know their employers will sue THEM as criminals if they don’t cooperate. Sort of like game theory within game theory (which sort of explains a caste system). This is why you only see ex-LEO’s coming out against the WOD; they know the consequences of being against it while employed as a LEO.

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