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Drug dealer who won $23 million lawsuit for police shooting, caught ‘dealing drugs near daycare

October 23, 2016  |  Posted by: Francesca Falzarano
Drug dealer who won $23 million lawsuit for police shooting, caught ‘dealing drugs near daycare F. Greg Barnhart, a senior partner at Searcy Denney Scarola, Barnhart & Shipley, pushes Dontrell Stephens as he heads into to the U.S. Federal Courthouse in downtown Ft. Lauderdale on January 28, 2016. Dontrell Stephens, who became a paraplegic after being shot in the chest by Sgt. Adams Lin in September 2013, claims the Palm Beach County sheriff's deputy used excessive force during the incident. (Richard Graulich / The Palm Beach Post)

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Authorities say Dontrell Stephens, who was awarded a $23 million after winning a lawsuit against a Florida sheriff’s office after he was shot by a deputy — an incident that left him paralyzed has been arrested for selling drugs including marijuana, heroin, and cocaine near a local preschool.

The Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office revealed on their Facebook page on Thursday that the 23-year-old Dontrell Stephens was taken into custody, posting his mugshot and booking sheet beside the message, “If you sell drugs near a DAY CARE CENTER you are going to get #BUSTED.”

According to CBS12, the suspect, who is paralyzed from the waist down, won his federal lawsuit against the sheriff’s office back in February but has not received any cash as the verdict is under appeal.

Under Florida law, any lawsuit payout of over $200,000 by a local government agency must first be authorized by the Legislature.

Jack Scarola, Stephens’ attorney, stated that he thought the Facebook announcement of the arrest was bizarre and cited the agency’s refusal to pay has driven his client to the “brink of desperation.”

“And then the moment he falls off the ledge, if in fact, he has fallen off the ledge, the Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office is there to catch him,” Scarola added.

He noted that Stephens lives on a monthly Social Security disability check and the “generosity and pity of friends.”

Scarola noted: “Just as surely as if they had planted drugs on Dontrell Stephens, he has been entrapped. There is no excuse for engaging in illegal drug trade, but any reasonable look at Dontrell’s desperate circumstances would show why he may have been led to do things he otherwise would have never done.”

As of Thursday, Stephens remains in custody at the Palm Beach County Jail on $48,000 bail.

Stephens, who is black, was unarmed when he was shot by Deputy Adams Lin back in September 2013.

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Dontrell Stephens, 23, was arrested on charges that he sold heroin, marijuana, and cocaine near a preschool

Lin, who had stopped the man for riding his bike into traffic, testified that he shot Stephens four times because he reached for his waistband with his left hand and then flashed a dark gadget which he believed was a small handgun.

Stephens maintained that he was raising his hands when Lin, who is Asian-American, shot him for no reason. Footage from the dashboard camera in Lin’s vehicle showed that Stephens’ left hand was empty and a phone was in his right hand.

Last week, the sheriff’s office agreed to pay $1.7 million to the relatives of a mentally ill 18-year-old who was shot and killed by a deputy back in 2012.

Michael Camberdella had put down the hammer and hedge shears he was holding but started throwing rocks at Deputy William Goldstein, who shot at him 11 times and killed him.

Goldstein and Lin were both cleared of criminal wrongdoing and still work with the sheriff’s office.

In 2016 alone, the agency has agreed to pay over $3 million to victims or relatives of deputy-involved shootings, The Palm Beach Post reported.

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