Police Paralyzed Him, Then “Left [Him] To Fend For Himself”

Biker on city street
Zain Murdock
September 21, 2021

In the fall of 2013, 20-year-old Dontrell Stephens was riding his bicycle along Haverhill Road in Palm Beach, Florida. Deputy Adam Lin stopped him for a “bicycle infraction.” But when Stephens got off the bike and reached for his cell phone, Lin shot him four times!

Stephens lived, but his life got way more complicated.

Because one of the bullets struck his spinal cord, he was paralyzed for life. And besides adjusting to life as a newly disabled Black person, he also had a hefty bill from doctors to pay off. A $1.5 million bill! 

In 2020, Stephens finally won a settlement for $6 million, but what about those seven years in between?

While Lin was cleared of charges and celebrating a promotion, Stephens was “essentially homeless” and “left to fend for himself.” And there’s more.

Stephens also had to deal with his mother’s death – and police setting him up with a drug sentencing! Unfortunately, he recently died of “complications from paralysis.” 

Many claim policing is about safety, but cases like Stephens’ illustrate how that is not so.

Not only did police use excessive force, but they purposefully denied him funds to navigate the significant disability they left him with. They might claim they hurt us by “mistake,” but they obviously don’t care about Black health and well-being.

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