For more than four years, questions swirled about the shooting death of Gregory Vaughn Hill Jr. at his home in Fort Pierce, Fla. After all, there were only three witnesses to how the entire episode unfolded: two St. Lucie County sheriff’s deputies and Mr. Hill.
Mr. Hill, a 30-year-old African-American, was fatally shot by a white sheriff’s deputy who had responded to a noise complaint about music Mr. Hill had been playing in his garage. Toxicology reports showed Mr. Hill was drunk at the time. And after a brief encounter with the deputies, he was discovered dead inside the garage with a gun in his back pocket; the deputies said he had been holding it during their confrontation, though that claim is in dispute. Mr. Hill had been shot three times by one of the deputies, Christopher Newman.
Among other things, a federal jury hearing a wrongful-death lawsuit brought by Mr. Hill’s family was asked to decide whether his constitutional rights had been violated and whether his estate should be awarded damages. How much, jurors were asked, were the pain and suffering of Mr. Hill’s three children worth?