By IN reporter Sean Boone
Steen Press Conference
Aaron Watson, the attorney for the family of Victor Steen, held a press conference today outside the Federal Courthouse to speak about yesterday’s coroner’s inquest decision.
“A young boy subsequently was hit by a vehicle and his body dragged 35 feet,” Watson told local media. “Police cars are not supposed to end up on people. What you see (in the crime scene pictures) is a boy who had been dragged under a vehicle that says ‘Pensacola Police Department: Professionalism and Integrity Since 1851’ on top of him.”
County Judge John Simon found Pensacola Police officer Jerald Ard to not be at fault for the Oct. 3, 2009 accident that killed 17-year-old Steen.
Steen was riding his bicycle near a construction site in Brownsville when Ard flagged him to stop. After ignoring his command, the officer closely trailed Steen on his bike before striking him in an abandoned parking lot across from the Sluggo’s music venue.
Watson said the inquest did not allow him to ask “the tough questions” or cross-examine witnesses—particularly Ard.
“I can tell you it was the toughest thing I’ve had to sit through…not being able to talk.”
Attorney Bill Cash, who has also worked for the Steen family, said the verdict did not take into consideration many aspects of the event that transpired.
“It doesn’t take into account the entire five minutes (Ard chased Steen),” he said. “It’s not fair to look into the last 1.6 seconds.”
During the conference, several family members in attendance held back tears and gave responses to the ruling.
“The real Victor Steen…he said I love you and phoned me every day,” said sister Fatina Dupree. “I will stay strong in my faith until justice is served.”
Roughly 45 minutes before the press conference was held, the State Attorney’s Office released a statement that said it was in agreement with the court ruling and will “take no further action” in the matter.
Watson told the media he received no phone call or other contact from State Attorney Bill Eddins regarding the decision and that the news means that it would be another “tough mountain to climb.”
Since 1995 there have been 13 coroner’s inquests in Escambia Count to determine law enforcement wrongdoings. None of which have recommend criminal action.
The Steen family plans to file a civil suit against the PPD in June.