Family files lawsuit after 17-year-old with Down syndrome shot

(CBS12) - A family from The Acreage has filed a lawsuit against the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office over what it says was an unjustified shooting of it's 17-year-old son with Down syndrome.

The incident stems from October 2010 when Jeremy Hutton's mother called 911 and said Jeremy, who has a severe case of Down syndrome, got a hold of his parents' car keys and took the van.

Deputies ended up locating and followed the van, ultimately to Okeechobee Blvd. and Royal Palm Beach Blvd. The traffic camera shows one deputy try to block it in from the front.

The deputy, out of his car, fires multiple times as the vehicle makes a left turn and hits another car. Hutton, behind the wheel, was hit by three bullets and injured. The deputy said he had to shoot.

But Hutton's attorney, Stuart Kaplan, said the deputy's statement conflicts with what the video shows.

"The deputy says, 'I looked at him, he looked at me and made a sharp right turn and turned the vehicle towards me,'" said Kaplan. "That's a lie."

PBSO's internal investigation and the state attorney found the deputy's decision to use force was justified.

But Kaplan said deputies also knew the teen had Down syndrome and wasn't a threat to begin with. Kaplan said Hutton has the mental capacity of a six-year-old. The family believes the shooting was unjustified and internal investigation was flawed.

"I think they need an outside agency or people to keep them honest," said Kaplan. "Physical and emotional scaring will be with him the rest of his life."

The Hutton family is seeking monetary damages hopes the case will ultimately go to a jury trial.

PBSO says it responds to about 3,000 calls each year from people who may be suffering from some kind of mental illness and 99% are resolved without force.


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