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Jury clears deputy in fatal shooting, awards victim's family $4

FORT PIERCE, Fla. -- A federal jury has cleared a deputy of using excessive force in the 2014 shooting death of Gregory Hill Jr. and awarded $4 to Hill's family, a family lawyer said. The jury, which was weighing a lawsuit filed by Hill's family, ruled last week that St. Lucie County Deputy Christopher Newman did not violate Hill's civil rights, reports CBS affiliate WPEC-TV of West Palm Beach, Floirda.

And it placed the bulk of the blame -- 99 percent -- on Hill.

It found Sheriff Ken Mascara one percent liable for the killing.

WPEC-TV reports that Newman shot and killed Hill, a 30-year-old father of three children, in January 2014 after two officers responded to a complaint that Hill was playing loud music at the family's home, court documents show. The sheriff's office said Hill, a Coca-Cola warehouse employee, was carrying a gun and was drunk when deputies got to the home. 

Newman testified that he fired his handgun four times through the home's garage door after seeing Hill with a gun, and after the garage door closed. A single bullet fatally struck his head. An unloaded gun was later found in Hill's back pocket.

The sheriff's office said in a statement that Newman was "placed in a very difficult situation" and "made the best decision he could for the safety of his partner, himself, and the public given the circumstances he faced."

"We appreciate the jury's time and understanding and wish everyone involved in this case the best as they move forward," the statement said.

Attorney John Phillips, who represents Hill's family, said his clients will likely appeal, WPEC-TV reported.

Editor's note: This story has been corrected to indicate the Hill family was awarded $4.

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