32963 Homepage

Want to purchase reprints of your favorite 32963 or photos?

Copies of Vero Beach 32963 can be obtained at the following locations:


Our office HQ: (located at 4855 North A1A)
1. Corey's Pharmacy
2. 7-Eleven

(South A1A)
3. Major Real Estate Offices


1. Vero Beach Book

2. Classic Car Wash
3. Divine Animal
4. Sunshine Furniture

5. Many Medical

Teel wrongful death suit against Sheriff’s Office, Deputy now set for July

STORY BY RAY MCNULTY (Week of June 17, 2021)

A $10 million wrongful-death lawsuit filed against the Indian River County Sheriff’s Office – and Deputy Jonathan Lozada, who fatally shot a Vero Beach doctor’s wife in 2017 – has been selected by a U.S. District Court judge to serve as a “pilot” for resumption of jury trials in this area.

The pilot trials are the latest phase in the federal court system’s reopening plan as the nation recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Earlier this month, Judge Donald Middlebrooks notified the parties that the trial, set for July 6 at the federal courthouse in Fort Pierce, was excluded from a previous order continuing all jury trials in the U.S. Southern District of Florida until July 19.

According to Todd Norbraten, one of the Stuart-based attorneys representing the plaintiff Dr. Dudley Teel, the pilot trials will require physical distancing and the wearing of masks in the courtroom.

“I think you’ll be allowed to remove your mask when you’re speaking, and masks may be optional for jurors,” Norbraten said. “This is all new, and the judge will have some discretion. No one can anticipate everything that can happen during a trial.

“This will be Judge Middlebrooks’ first pilot jury trial, but another judge has scheduled one before ours begins,” he added, “so I’ll probably take a peek at that one, so we know what to expect.”

In a related matter, Norbraten last week filed a second lawsuit against the deputy in the Teel case – this one alleging the use of “unnecessary, unreasonable and excessive” force against his client, Luciano Paternoster of Vero Beach, during a traffic stop.

The traffic stop occurred seven weeks before Deputy Lozada responded to an attempted-suicide call at the Teels’ Carriage Lake home and shot Susan Teel three times in the chest.

Norbraten said Lozada would not have been on duty the night the Teel family called for help if then-Sheriff Deryl Loar had “taken the appropriate steps” after the deputy used excessive force against Paternoster.

Paternoster’s lawsuit names only Lozada as a defendant – not the Sheriff’s Office.

“In the Teel case, the strongest argument against the agency is that the Sheriff’s Office should’ve taken Lozada off the streets after the incident with Mr. Paternoster,” Norbraten said.

“In the Paternoster case, the agency did what it was supposed to do: It conducted an internal investigation and suspended Lozada for using excessive force,” he added.

“The Sheriff’s Office’s own reports say the deputy wasn’t trained to respond the way he did and that his actions were improper.

“Therefore, based on the facts as I know them, it would be difficult to make a strong-enough argument against the agency to survive a defense motion for summary judgement.”

Lozada wrote in his report on the June 8, 2017, incident that he was on patrol and cruising through the Wawa parking lot – at the intersection of U.S. 1 and 12th Street – shortly after midnight, when Paternoster left the store, got into his vehicle and quickly backed out, nearly hitting the deputy’s car.

According to the report, Lozada stopped the driver at the gas pumps and noticed a “strong odor of an alcoholic beverage” on the man’s breath and that he spoke with “slurred speech.” He also detected the “odor of marijuana” inside the car.

Paternoster, who denied he had been drinking, refused to take a roadside sobriety test or even exit his car, prompting Lozada to pull him from the vehicle and arrest him.

Lozada wrote that during the arrest, the right side of Paternoster’s head “hit the concrete ground” and that the suspect “immediately lost consciousness,” suffering a cut on his eyebrow and bruise on his cheek.

Paternoster, who was 22 at the time, was taken by ambulance to Cleveland Clinic Indian River Hospital, where he was diagnosed with a concussion. After being discharged, he was arrested and charged with four drug-related offenses, DUI, resisting arrest without violence and driving an unregistered vehicle.

The State Attorney’s Office later dropped all the charges because of concerns regarding the circumstances that led to Paternoster’s arrest.

The Sheriff’s Office suspended Lozada for 40 hours for his behavior in the Wawa arrest, but the punishment was not imposed until the agency’s Internal Affairs detectives completed their investigation – three months after Lozada’s highly publicized shooting of Susan Teel.

The Teel incident occurred shortly after 8 p.m. on July 26, 2017, after Susan Teel attempted to commit suicide by slashing her wrists.

Lozada responded to the 911 call and, after speaking briefly with Dr. Teel, pulled his gun as he climbed the stairs and confronted the petite, 62-year-old woman in a second-floor bedroom.

The Sheriff’s Office report stated Susan Teel was holding a knife and lunged at Lozada, prompting him to fire his gun.

In January 2018, a grand jury declined to indict Lozada on criminal charges. Eight months later, however, Dr. Teel filed his lawsuit, which produced testimony that called into question Lozada’s actions and his account of the shooting.

Judge Middlebrooks initially tossed the case, saying the shooting was justified, but Dr. Teel appealed to the U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, where a three-judge panel issued a strongly worded, 22-page opinion reinstating the lawsuit and describing Lozada’s lethal actions as “wholly unnecessary.”

In April, attorneys representing Lozada filed a 33-page petition asking the U.S. Supreme Court to review the 11th Circuit’s ruling.

As of Monday, no decision had been announced.