Miami, FL — A Miami teenager who was shot six times by police, committed suicide in 2016 after suffering from years of pain. The judge in Sebastian Gregory’s civil case just ruled in favor of the teen, posthumously, and the case into the intentional shooting by a Miami police officer will now be reopened.
Gregory was just 16 years old when Miami-Dade County Police Officer Luis Perez made contact with him in the early morning hours of May 28, 2012. Perez ordered the teenager to get onto the ground, face down—an order with which Gregory did comply.
Perez claimed he believed the teenager had a gun and was reaching for it, so he decided to kill Gregory by shooting him in the back six times. The ‘gun’ turned out to be a baseball bat.
However, Gregory did not die, and Perez was not charged with attempted murder. However, his actions that night would eventually lead to the death of Gregory. Instead of dying instantly in the hail of gunfire, Gregory died a slow death of pain and depression. One of his legs was paralyzed, and he felt constant pain as a result of the shooting.
The Miami New Times described Gregory’s pain and suffering:
…although doctors feared Gregory would never walk again, he did eventually regain the use of one leg and was able to move around using a walker. But one leg remained paralyzed. He also told the TV station he became sexually impotent and said he also missed walking his dogs to the park and playing sports with his friends. His mother, Amalia, told NBC that her son was depressed and had trouble getting out of bed. After fighting multiple rounds of court appeals, Gregory killed himself January 16, 2016.
Judge Frank Hull announced a judgment in the case, awarding Gregory’s family with an undisclosed amount of money. Potentially of more interest to the family were Hull’s comments about the shooting.
This case involves not just any battery — such as punching, kicking, or beating — but an egregious, aggravated battery of shooting Gregory with a firearm in the back.
Hull also claimed that Officer Perez had no legal basis for shooting the child in the back. “Under Gregory’s pled facts, there is not even a pretense of a lawful right to shoot Gregory in the performance of Officer Perez’s duties,” Hull wrote.
He stated that by shooting Gregory in the back, Perez violated the young boy’s constitutionally protected Fourth Amendment rights.
…shooting a non-resisting suspect who has done nothing threatening and thus posed no immediate danger violates the Fourth Amendment right to be free from the use of excessive force…InsteaD, Gregory Wobbled.
The teenager testified earlier that the baseball bat was causing him discomfort, and he moved to readjust the bat. It should also be noted that Officer Perez had a previous interaction with the teenager, having arrested him on another occasion for being in possession of the same baseball bat, as well as a knife. On the near-deadly encounter, however, he claimed he believed the teen to be in possession of a firearm.
Hull’s comments now call into question Miami-Dade County State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle’s decision to clear the officer of any wrongdoing in 2014. In fact, she has cleared every officer of wrongdoing, who has been involved in an officer-involved shooting, since 1993 when she took office as the State’s Attorney. The appellate judge’s comments now serve as a reminder that the State’s Attorney is also supposed to arrest and try police officers when their actions are found to be criminal.
The judgment and reopening of the case against their son’s killer will do nothing to get Gregory back. Andres Gregory, the boy’s father, is extremely upset that Perez has kept his job as a police officer. He said:
He shot a kid…My son was 16 years old, and [Perez is] in the street like nothing happened. I’m afraid for the other kids on the street and what could happen to them.
The boy’s stick figure drawing and written description tell the horrifying tale of his life after encountering one of Miami’s finest. “This was me when I was 16,” Gregory wrote. “All I see is pain. All I feel is loneliness.”