There are so many arguments about the effectiveness of the name #BlackLivesMatter. There are people who believe it priorities the humanity of one group over another. There are those who believe it should apply to more than just police brutality and killing.
But for me, it’s always been painfully clear that the hashtag that turned into a movement is about the ways in which this country devalues our lives, whether in the school system, in corporate America and certainly in the justice system.
There was evidence of this fact recently when a federal jury in Florida decided to award the family of Gregory Hill 4 cents after he was killed by police.
A jury found that Hill, 30, was 99 percent responsible for his death because he was drunk. And that the St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office was 1 percent responsible. The jury awarded Hill’s family $4 in the trial. And since they believe the officers were only 1 percent responsible, that’s the percentage of the settlement they’ll receive. Meaning the family was awarded 4 cents.
Monique Davis’ HIll’s fiancee told NBC News, “My heart just dropped. It was like, are y’all serious?”
In 2014, officers arrived at Hill’s home because of a loud music complaint. They knocked on the garage and front door. Hill opened the garage door and then decided to close it back down. As he was doing so, Deputy Christopher Newman fired, killing Hill.
Later, an unloaded gun was found in Hill’s back pocket.
Later, tests showed that Hill’s blood alcohol level was five times the driving limit. But he was home during the time of his death.
Newman was not indicted. But Hill’s mother filed a wrongful death suit against Newman and his boss St. Lucie County Sheriff Ken Mascara. Mascara was later given a small portion of the blame.
Police claim that hill pulled out his fun but the family’s attorney John Phillips disputed the claim, asking how the gun ended up in HIll’s back pocket before he died.
The family attorney, Phillips said, “I’d have rather seen a zero than have to tell the children that their pain and suffering for losing their father is only a dollar. Either it was punitive or they viewed these children’s pain as virtually worthless.”
The Sheriff’s Office released this statement after the judgment.
“We are pleased to see this difficult and tragic incident come to a conclusion. Deputy Newman was placed in a very difficult situation, and like so many fellow law enforcement officers must do everyday, he made the best decision he could for the safety of his partner, himself, and the public given the circumstances he faced.”
Phillips said he is in the process of filing another motion for a new trial.