domnicky/iStock(HOLLYWOOD, S.C.) — A South Carolina man has settled a lawsuit against the Charleston County Sheriff’s Office, ending a years-long battle that began when an officer shot him in his own home after mistaking him for a burglar.
Bryant Heyward, who was left paralyzed by by a police shooting in 2015 after calling 911 to report a home invasion, settled his lawsuit against the sheriff’s office for $750,000 — a far cry from the $25 million he’d originally asked for, his attorney revealed Sunday.
“This case was very complicated. Bryant was a completely innocent guy and everything that could have went wrong did go wrong,” his attorney, Justin Bamberg, told ABC News on Sunday. “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.”
“His life changed forever, but he’s one of the fortunate ones who survived one of these bad encounters with law enforcement,” he added.
Heyward called 911 during an armed burglary at his home in Hollywood, South Carolina, just west of Charleston. Authorities said he had a gun in his hand when Charleston County Sheriff’s deputies arrived at the scene.
In a recording of the 911 call, the victim told the dispatcher that two men with guns are trying to break into his house, banging at the window. Later in the call, he pleaded with the dispatcher for the police to hurry.
The burglars had run off by the time police arrived and the responding deputies said they didn’t know the homeowner was armed.
Heyward filed the lawsuit in 2017 after the shooting left him paralyzed from the neck down and in need of medical care for the rest of his life. He is unable to feed or bathe himself and has developed bed sores and diabetes, according to his attorney.
He was left with long-standing emotional trauma as well. Bamberg said the legal battle eventually helped his client become stronger and more resilient, but it felt like an uphill battle at times.
“I’ve had a few cases in my career that emotionally put me through the wringer and this is one of them,” Bamberg said. “It hurts to have a young man who is in his late 20s tell you they would rather be dead because he can’t move anything below his neck.”
“Over time, his spirit revitalized 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 realized that he’s blessed because he still gets to talk to his loved ones and visit his friends,” he added.
Bamberg said the settlement happened in May, but Heyward wanted to keep it private out of fear for his safety. Now, he hopes to let his story be an inspiration to others.
“We didn’t say anything; we were mindful that what kick-started this whole thing was foolish people trying to break in to steal from him,” Bamberg said. “We didn’t want to put out how much money he got just in case someone tried to target his house again.”
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