A man who has been left paralysed after being shot by a police officer in his own home has been awarded just $750,000 in compensation.
Bryant Heyward was shot in the neck in 2015 when he was mistaken for a burglar after he called 911 to report a home invasion at his house in Hollywood, South Carolina.
He had asked for $25 million in his lawsuit against the sheriff’s office, however he ended up settling for just $750,000.
His attorney Justin Bamberg told ABC News:
This case was very complicated. Bryant was a completely innocent guy and everything that could have went wrong did go wrong.
With no footage of the shooting, certain factual disputes created a proverbial he-said, he-said situation. However, nothing changes the fact that Bryant was an innocent homeowner shot in a tragic turn of events and his life will never be the same because of it.
His life changed forever, but he’s one of the fortunate ones who survived one of these bad encounters with law enforcement.
Authorities have maintained Bryant had a gun in his hand when Charleston County Sheriff deputies arrived at his home. By the time police arrived, the burglars had run off and they didn’t know Heyward was armed.
In a report, deputy Keith Tyner said he and his partner arrived and saw a door fling open ‘and a black male appeared and pointed a handgun’.
Although there’s no footage of the actual shooting, there is an audio recording in which Tyner can be heard asking Heyward to show his hands. Barely a second later, the officer fired twice, rendering Heyward a quadriplegic for life.
‘Wrong guy, sir,’ Heyward yelled after the bullet pierced his neck. ‘This is my house.’
In the 911 call from earlier that night, Heyward can be heard telling the dispatcher two men with guns were trying to break into his house and were banging on the windows.
Later in the call, he can be heard pleading with the dispatcher for the police to hurry.
In 2017 Heyward filed a lawsuit against the sheriff’s office after the shooting left him paralysed from the neck down and in need of medical care for the rest of his life. His lawyer says he also suffers from long-standing emotional trauma as a result of the incident.
I’ve had a few cases in my career that emotionally put me through the wringer and this is one of them. It hurts to have a young man who is in his late twenties tell you they would rather be dead because he can’t move anything below his neck.
Over time, his spirit revitalised and his spirit was rebuilt. Now he says, ‘I’m a survivor, I can beat this.’ He learned how to use this chair and he realised that he’s blessed because he still gets to talk to his loved ones and visit his friends.
The settlement was awarded in May but was kept private initially out of a fear for his own safety.
We didn’t want to put out how much money he got just in case someone tried to target his house again.
In 2018, the South Carolina Attorney General’s Office decided Tyner had ‘acted appropriately’ when he shot Heyward and declined to press charges against him.
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Emma Rosemurgey is an NCTJ trained Journalist who started her career by producing The Royal Rosemurgey newspaper in 2004, which kept her family up to date with the goings on of her sleepy north east village. She graduated from the University of Central Lancashire in Preston and started her career in regional newspapers before joining Tyla (formerly Pretty 52) in 2017, and progressing onto UNILAD in 2019.