Palm Beach Sheriff's Office Deputy Ramesh Nandlal used excessive force in 2010 when he shot and killed 44-year-old Richard Montero, who was inebriated and unarmed, a West Palm Beach federal jury ruled on Wednesday.
The jury has ordered the PBSO to award Montero's family $540,000. Gossip Extra reports that the money will go to Montero's 16-year-old daughter.
On April 9, 2010, Nandlal and his partner, Victor Blackman, spotted Montero passed out inside his Ford Explorer as the vehicle idled at a traffic light just past 6 in the morning. The officers approached Montero, who was apparently inebriated. But Montero grew agitated over the deputies ordering to have the Explorer towed, and things turned physical.
The officers tasered Montero, but he kept coming at them, the deputies claimed. When Montero and Nandlal got into a scuffle on the ground, the officer shot him four times.
According to the internal affairs report, one witness who was driving by claimed to have heard Montero threatening to kill the officers.
"Mr. Montero made no effort to cooperate as he repeatedly struck and pushed both deputies to the ground, placing the deputies in a position of disadvantage, fatigue, and fear for their lives," the internal affairs office report said.
The report went on to say that Montero made a grab for one of the officers' belts. He was then shot four times. Montero later died at Delray Community Hospital.
At the time of the shooting, the PBSO released a statement that read:
"This is just another example an extremely violent individual that has tried to overpower two of our deputies. And that's why they had to use the amount of force that they used. They did everything that they could with the tasers, that didn't have any effect on him at all. And, at a certain point in time they just, you know, were basically out of gas and realized that this guy could get the best of them, get their weapons and kill both of them."
The trial, which began on Monday, had the jury decide whether or not the PBSO deputy was justified in shooting Montero, Gossip Extra reports.
While the attorney representing Montero's family conceded he was drunk and belligerent when the deputies approached him, he still shouldn't have been "executed for that."
Meanwhile, Nandlal said he was afraid Montero was going for his gun. But Montero was on the ground when he was shot.
The news of the verdict comes at a time of heightened scrutiny over PBSO shootings.
Last week, a dashcam video of a PBSO shooting an unarmed black man was leaked.
In 2012, two PBSO deputies pinned 17-year-old Devin Jolicoeur to the ground before shooting him.
Another unarmed man, Seth Adams, was shot in the chest and stomach and killed by PBSO in 2012. Once again, the State Attorney's Office ruled that the shooting was justified and that the deputy acted "within protocol."
Adams' family has launched a civil lawsuit against PSBO over his death.