SAN BERNARDINO (AP) —A jury awarded Antonio Steward $55 million in a negligence lawsuit.
He told KCAL9′s Brittney Hopper that all the money in the world will not bring his legs back. He also says he is in constant pain.
“If the only way God wants to be here is in pain, I’ll be here,” Steward says.
Seven years ago, Steward was shot by a gang member — nine times.
He was 17 at the time, living with his parents. He simply went out to smoke a cigarette when he was approached by one man who had been part of a group of men — alleged gang members — who had been partying all day and night.
One of the men asked if he had another cigarette and Steward did not. The gang member was upset and shot him.
“I remember thinking this, ‘Are you serious’? Did he really just shoot me’”?, recalls Steward. He knew it was bad immediately.
“I felt everything,” he says. “I [first] saw the gun out of the corner of my eye.”
A negligence lawsuit claimed that a security guard did not break up the rowdy party leaving Steward and others vulnerable.
“I look at everyone else, and I’m like, okay, they are having a bad day. I am having an awesome day. I’m still alive,” says Steward.
He is living with his parents, in a tiny two bedroom apartment that is not equipped to deal with someone with so many physical challenges.
Steward says the past seven years have been hard on his family as well — the physical challenges, the legal maneuverings. When his mom heard the jury’s decision, she broke down and cried.
“It was overwhelming. It felt like a big load was lifted off my shoulders. Like, now we have closure,” says his mom.
Steward credits God and Loma Linda University Medical Center with saving his life. He plans on donating some of his award to the hospital.
His first purchase will be a wheelchair accessible home for him and his parents.
He had this message about the entire ordeal.
“You have to be happy for what you have and what you can do. What you can’t do is what you must not do.”
Hopper reports the fight might not be over yet, there is a chance of an appeal or the judge reducing the amount the jury awarded.
Roosevelt Turner, the shooter, is now serving two consecutive life terms in prison.