TAMPA, Fla. — A federal jury has found the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office 90 percent responsible for the death of a Tampa teen who was ejected from the Florida State Fair back in 2014.
After deliberating, the jury ultimately found the sheriff's office responsible for 90 percent while they found Andrew Joseph III, the teen who died, 10 percent responsible.
The sheriff's deputy in charge that night back in 2014 was not found responsible.
Joseph's parents are set to receive $13.5 million following the lawsuit.
"Today we got vindication," the teen's father, Andrew Joseph II, said. "Today we cleared his name! Today was proven that that child didn’t do nothing wrong out there! And we got it in black-and-white! It ain’t never gonna bring them back, but it’s going to send a message wide across this world."
The family says they will put some of the money it was awarded today towards the Andrew Joseph Foundation, which they created in their son's honor. The organization educates communities to protect children and young adults.
"This has been a long and arduous journey," Joseph's mother Deanna said following the verdict. "We are so grateful to our team and community that has been built in the name of Andrew Joseph III. We all walk with the spirit of my son, my 14-year-old son who died here in this place — Tampa, Florida."
10 Tampa Bay reached out to the attorney representing the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office for comment on Thursday night but have not yet heard back.
On Student Day 2014 at the Florida State Fair, Joseph was one of about 100 students ejected during an incident along the midway. He was photographed, removed from the property, and dropped off without contacting his parents, who say their son did nothing wrong.
As Joseph tried to run across I-4 to catch a ride home, he was struck and killed.
Local civil rights leaders joined Black Lives Matter on Monday in an organized demonstration at the courthouse to show their support.
“We know, without a doubt, that this young man was racially profiled. With no regard for his civil rights, safety or the concern for his parents,” Pastor Carl Soto said.
The wrongful death lawsuit alleges the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office violated federal law, which the Josephs say required supervision and parental contact when a minor is taken into custody.
That didn’t happen.
There have been several security, safety and policy changes at the state fairgrounds since this happened. The Josephs say, eventually, they’d like to see part of the area named for their son as a historic reminder of what happened there.