TAMPA, Fla. — A federal jury in Tampa is now deliberating in the civil suit filed on behalf of Andrew Joseph III.
Joseph was 14 years old when he was ejected from the Florida State Fair on student day in 2014. Hours later he was struck and killed by a car along I-4.
His family has spent the past two weeks trying to convince a jury that the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office violated Joseph’s civil rights by detaining him, that deputies failed to provide a safe environment for their son and that they failed to call his parents to let them know what was happening.
Nearly 100 kids were thrown out of the fairgrounds that night when things got out of hand along the midway.
The Joseph family says their son was a good kid who simply got caught up in it.
Deputies admitted Joseph had really done nothing wrong other than running. But defense attorneys say 98 others made it home safely that night and were it not for Joseph’s own bad decisions and his own mistakes, he would still be here today.
One thing attorneys on both sides did agree on is that this was a tragedy.
But the family’s attorneys say the sheriff’s office has spent 8 1/2 years trying to avoid taking responsibility.
They claim their son was rounded up, processed, photographed, detained and ultimately ejected from the fairgrounds in a dark area without so much as a phone call. That, they say, violates state law and deprived their son of his civil rights.
The sheriff’s office’s defense lawyers say the deputy in charge that night, Mark Clark, followed procedures and followed the trespass rules laid out by the state fair.
They also argue that since Joseph wasn’t technically arrested, they were not legally obligated to call his parents or a responsible adult.
In their closing arguments, the defense said Joseph had ample opportunity to catch a ride home with family friends. And despite making several cell phone calls, he never contacted his own parents to tell them what happened or to ask them to come pick him up.
The defense points to something called a “causal chain."
They say whatever happened at the fair with deputies occurred two hours before Joseph made the ill-advised decision on his own to try to run across I-4 to catch a ride home.
The plaintiffs say he should’ve never been put in that position in the first place. The family is asking for a judgment of $30 million in this case.
The jury is deliberating, and we will keep you informed on a verdict as soon as it is announced.