Nathaniel Harris Pickett Jr. (courtesy photo)

The family of a mentally ill man fatally shot by San Bernardino County sheriffs in 2015, was recently awarded over 33 million dollars by a California jury. The jury deliberated two hours before deciding that $15.5 million in compensatory damages and $18 million in punitive damages should go to Nathaniel Harris Pickett Jr.’s family, who said the victim’s body was left “unrefrigerated” for several days while in the sheriff’s possession. The family’s attorney Dale Galipo said the award shows that “unjustified shootings will not be tolerated.” 

“It’s the jury’s way of saying they will not tolerate the continued police shootings of unarmed men,” he said.  

Pickett, was reportedly mentally ill and had just moved into a hotel. News reports said he had been trying to avoid the deputy in 2015 and started running when Woods pursued him, believing that Pickett was trespassing on the Motel property. The lawsuit alleges that Pickett fell and was trying to move away from Woods when the deputy shot him in the chest. 

“[The county] tried to sell a story to the jury about how the incident happened that the jury realized, through the presentation of evidence, was not true,” Galipo said. 

The court found that the deputy was negligent by unlawfully detaining Pickett, denying him timely medical care and using deadly force, according to federal court records. 

“We strongly disagree with the outcome based on the evidence in this case,” sheriff’s Lt. Sarkis Ohannessian said in a statement. “Our attorneys, the department and the county, will be discussing appealing the jury’s award.”