Maury Hernandez, the Broward Sheriff’s Office deputy who defied the odds by surviving a gun shot to the head during a traffic stop gone awry, is suing the Florida Department of Corrections for negligence.
Hernandez’s lawsuit, filed Thursday in Broward Circuit Court, claims the department did not keep proper tabs on shooter David Maldonado -- an ex-con with a lengthy criminal record who told parole officers he kept a gun for work-related reasons. But a rookie parole officer never checked his story -- if he had, he would have discovered the ex-con was lying.
“There’s clear evidence of negligence,” said Lance Block, a Tallahassee-based attorney representing Hernandez. “All of these violations of procedure are the reason why Maldonado has a weapon, why Maury Hernandez was shot.”
In August 2007, Maldonado shot Hernandez in the back of head after the undercover deputy tried to pull him over for running several red lights along Pembroke Road. Hernandez was not expected to live. He spent months in a coma.
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Maldonado should never have had a gun in his possession. An earlier two-year probation sentence stemming from felony concealed weapon charges prohibited him from owning a gun. If he violated this or any part of his probation it should have been reported to the courts, Block said.
While Maldonado admitted to his parole officer Daunte Foster that he carried a gun, according to court records, he told Foster they were required by his supposed employers -- a security company and the U.S. Marines.
Those claims were proven false during Maldonado’s criminal trial last year in which he was found guilty of attempted murder of a law enforcement officer and sentenced to life in prison.
“He admitted to having a gun and there was no further verification by the rookie probation officer,” Block said.
At the time, Foster was new to the corrections department -- with four months under his belt and a caseload of roughly 100 parolees to keep tabs on, according to court records.
“1/8Maldonado3/8 misspelled the name of one of the companies on one of the forms,” Block said, pointing to the holes in Maldonado’s story to probation officials. “There was no attempt to investigate and check the validity of his claims.”
Jo Ellyn Rackleff, Florida Department of Corrections spokeswoman, said the department knows of the suit, but does not comment on pending litigation.
Block said he will allow the courts to determine the amount of restitution should a jury decide in Hernandez’s favor. “He is deserving of significant compensation,” Block said. “His life has forever changed because of this.”
Fragments of bullet remain in Hernandez’s head, and he has motor-function problems on the left side of his body.
He wanted to return to work as a law enforcement officer, but the BSO tried to force him to accept retirement due to permanent disability.
Last month, he was promoted to the rank of sergeant.
He has since said he might retire.