At 3:30 a.m. Monday, May 28, 2012, Miami-Dade County Police Officer Luis Perez drove his squad car through the Hammocks area of West Kendall on a hot and humid morning. He passed a teenager, later identified as 16-year-old Sebastian Gregory, wearing a baggy black sweater, black pants, beanie cap, black shoes, and what Perez later claimed was a gun sticking out of the teen’s pants. Perez claimed Gregory reached for the supposed gun while he was lying on the ground, so the officer fired six rounds into the teenager’s back.
The gun turned out to be a metal baseball bat.
Gregory miraculously survived and sued MDPD in April 2013 for using excessive force and violating his civil rights. But before he could see the case to its end, he killed himself in January 2016 after struggling for years with medical problems stemming from his wounds, including a paralyzed leg.
Gregory’s father, Andres, continued to fight in court. Though Officer Perez initially succeeded in having the case killed, on November 17, Gregory’s family won a judgment against the cop and the police department in a federal appellate court and succeeded in reopening the case, which will now proceed with a full trial.
The judge in the case suggested police will have tough questions to answer about why Perez shot an unarmed teen so many times as he lay on the ground.
“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,” federal circuit Judge Frank Hull wrote. “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.”
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