Mother Sues Fla. Deputy Over Son’s Death

     (CN) – The mother of a 28-year-old man shot and killed by a Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office Deputy claims in a lawsuit that at the time of her son’s death he was only seeking help for his mental health issues.
     In a complaint filed n the Palm Beach Federal Court, Jean Pavlov says that on the night of April 2, 2014, her son Matthew Pollow used her cellphone to place a 911 call. During the call, she says, he told the dispatcher he wanted to “Baker Act” himself.
     The Florida Mental Health Act of 1971, commonly known as the “Baker Act,” allows involuntary institutionalization and an examination of an individual experiencing a mental health crisis.
     Pavlow says when her son called 911, he “was not feeling well, and wanted to be examined by licensed mental health physicians. As it was late at night and past normal business hours for licensed mental health physicians, Matthew placed the 911 call in order to obtain help that evening.”
     Moments after Pollow’s phone conversation ended, the dispatcher called back and spoke with his the plaintiff.
     According to Pavlov, she identified herself as Pollow’s mother, but declined to give her name, which, she says, infuriated the dispatcher.
     “So you’re playing sick games like your son,” she quotes the dispatcher as saying. “You’ll see when the Sheriff gets there.”
     A short time later, Pavlov says, two Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office vehicles sped through the front gates of her apartment complex.
     Pavlov says once he arrived where she and her son were standing, one of the deputies shined a bright spotlight on her son.
     “Matthew was not violent, was not committing any crimes, nor accused of committing any crimes, lawfully in a place he had the right to be, and was not presenting a danger to himself or others,” the complaint says. “Matthew did not have any weapons in his possession.”
     Pavlov says her son began to walk calmly toward one of the police vehicles, and that he displayed his open hands to show that he was unarmed.
     Despite this, she says, defendant Deputy Evan Rosenthal opened fire without warning, shooting her son at least three times in the back.
     “Defendant Rosenthal used excessive force without justification to shoot and kill Matthew, despite the fact that Matthew had broken no laws, had not been placed under arrest, was in a place he was legally permitted to be, and was unarmed,” the complaint says.
     It continues, “As a result of the gunshot wounds, Matthew was pronounced dead at approximately 9:50 p.m. The Death certificate lists homicide as the probably manner of death, with the cause of death attributed to multiple gunshot wounds in the back.”
     Pavlov goes on to alleged that following the shooting, the deputies attempted to compromise the crime scene by picking up her son’s body and moving it closer to deputies vehicle than he’d been when he was shot.
     Documents obtained by Courthouse News from the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office tell a markedly different story.
     According to an account provided by the deputies at the scene, Rosenthal fired at Pollow because he approached him with a screwdriver. After Pollow shot and fell to the ground, one of the deputies reports kicking the screwdriver out of the wounded man’s hand, and they trying to render aid.
     Emergency medical responders later reported that when they arrived on the scene, they detected a slight pulse and lifted Pollow onto a backboard to continue providing aid.
     But a Sheriff’s Office captain on the scene “determined … that saving [Pollow] was not viable,” and he ordered the emergency responders to “place the body back” where they found it, according to the investigation.
     Police officers questioned during the investigation made reference to a severe bullet wound to Pollow’s head as the basis for deciding that he was unsalvageable; however, a coroner’s report stated that the two primary gunshot wounds were in Pollow’s back, with a tangential wound to his chin.
     In an interview with investigators, Pavlov allegedly said that in the time leading up to the shooting, Pollow was suffering from schizophrenia and had stopped taking his medication, which led him to believe someone was out to kill him.
     State Attorney David Aronberg reviewed the case and later informed the Sheriff’s Office that the investigation was closed.
     “No charges will be filed, nor will the matter be presented to the grand jury,” Aronberg said.
     Pavlov seeks unspecified damages and court costs on multiple claims of wrongful death and negligent infliction of emotional distress.
     She is represented by Theodore Leopold, Adam Langino and Nicholas Johnson of Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll, PLLC from Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.

%d bloggers like this: