Fourteen-year-old Andrew Joseph III was struck and killed by a car while he was trying to cross a highway after Hillsborough County Sheriff’s deputies ejected him from a state fair. In the wake of his 2014 death, the teen’s family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.
On Thursday, a jury determined the sheriff’s office was 90% responsible for Joseph’s death and ordered the sheriff to pay $15 million to his parents, The Associated Press reported. The jury also determined the teen was 10% responsible for his death.
Joseph lost his life after deputies kicked him out of the Florida State Fair. The deputies reportedly took that action after they received a report about a group of teenagers causing a disturbance at the event. The deceased teen tried to cross Interstate 4 after he was ejected, but he was struck and killed by a car.
The decision by the jury comes six years after Joseph’s parents filed the lawsuit. And following the verdict, Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister released a statement commiserating with Joseph’s family.
“Losing a child is a heartbreaking and eternal grief that no parent should have to face, and we continue to keep the Joseph family in our prayers,” Chronister said in Friday’s statement.
Joseph’s parents will equally share the awarded sum. But Chronister can still appeal the decision by the jury.
“That child didn’t do nothing wrong,” the deceased teen’s father, Andrew Joseph Jr. reportedly said after the decision. “Fifteen million (dollars) put some respect on it.”
“We are elated at this moment,” his mother Deanna Joseph also said.
Deputies said Joseph and other individuals were made to leave the fair because of an alleged physical altercation and theft, per The Associated Press.
And after he was ejected from the fair, attorneys for Joseph’s family said the teen’s football coach offered to give him a ride, adding that he turned that down and rather opted to attempt crossing the highway to get to the main gate.
“It was not foreseeable that someone would leave and enter the interstate,” attorney Robert Fulton said.
The attorneys for Joseph’s parents also said authorities shouldn’t have put the juvenile in such a position.
“A kid should never have been put in this position,” attorney for the plaintiffs Chris Anulewicz told the jury. “He should not have been put in the position of trying to do this on his own.”