top rated Attorney Six Tips from a Lawyer in Case You or a Loved One Have Been Involved in a Shooting at a Bar or Club
We are seeing it all too often. People are out trying to have a good time in a bar, restaurant or club and someone brings in a gun and starts shooting. Brandon Green was killed in a nightclub. Jordan Davis was killed in a gas station parking lot. Kalil McCoy was killed in her car. We have represented a number of families who have lost loved ones to gun violence. We have been hired before the funeral took place and have been at multiple funerals- a tragic place for a family to need a lawyer. We have prayed in courthouses, marched in marches, handed out flyers and put up our own money for rewards to find the killer or shooter. It never gets easier. We wanted to provide some “tips” just to help families going through this while they grieve.
phillips, hunt, walker & hanna (1) Don’t fully trust the business owner
Often times, the victim was a regular or had friends at the establishment where he or she was killed. The owner or its staff will offer remorse and sympathy. They distance themselves and blame the shooter, but both often have fault. In one instance, the owner expressed sorrow while someone he knew removed the security camera hard drive which captured the activities in the club that night and erased it. Why? These clubs don’t do everything by the book. Prying eyes expose them to liability not just related to the shooting, but to things which may jeopardize their licenses, get their business shut down or get other charges pressed against them.Security breaches are numerous. On many occasions, friends of the owners or staff come in a back door or bypass security altogether. In other instances, security is grossly underpaid and they take “tips” to allow people in without a full security check or to let contraband through the door. Even where clubs hire off-duty police officers, you see security breaches at clubs. Don’t be mistaken, it is also their fault you or your loved one was shot. Your security should not be taken for granted. Some of these same establishments sell one drink for more than they pay for security per hour.Be nice if you want to. Accept remorse and maybe even funds if they offer it, but do not sign anything and do not say anything which would be adverse to your potential case or your loved one’s case.
phillips, hunt, walker & hanna (2) Act quick
Evidence is fragile and disappears quickly. In many clubs and other business, there are cameras inside and out. This footage periodically gets recorded over even if it is not intentionally removed or erased. Business don’t want their customer base interrogated and their staff investigated. But these things need to preserved fairly quickly. Comments on social media disappear, but reveal clues.
Police investigate but aren’t always able to put in the time it takes to drop everything and investigate every shooting. They are often overworked and it isn’t like you see on television where every murderer or shooter is brought to justice. Get a commitment out of police that they are investigating, obtaining video from that business and any surrounding businesses and taking statements. But even that isn’t enough, as they aren’t looking for the same things we do in a civil case.You can easily go an extra step to get justice. And it won’t cost you a penny up front. The victim wants to recover and family is often concerned with mourning and burial of their loved one if they were killed. If you have access to a private investigator, hire one. Better yet, lawyers like us can get started immediately and work contingency, so you do not have to pay anything unless the legal team can recover for you. In many of these cases, that means you have someone working for you for free. So, hire someone who is experienced quickly. We will arrive on a scene with specialists and start combing through evidence immediately.
phillips, hunt, walker & hanna (3) Save Social Media Posts
Videos, Facebook posts, messages, Instagram photos, tweets and the like are often deleted. One club we sued promoted itself as a gangster’s paradise. They basically made money off of having a reputation for trouble. Many posts were deleted, not just about the incident, but about the way they ran the club. Not only did we save the posts before they were deleted, but made an issue of the deletion. It was like admitting guilt and reckless conduct. Did the business post that they were hiring security days before the shooting? Did the business have guns or knives in promotion materials? We have seen (and saved) it all.
Oftentimes, these clubs are owned by people who own many clubs and they try to hide behind staff and managers. They know what they are doing and it is important to pin them down, too.
phillips, hunt, walker & hanna (4) Preserve Evidence
Certainly make sure you get any injured people help. After that, if you were there, record what you can. Be discrete about it, but a picture is worth a million words. What cars are in the parking lot? What employees were on the scene? Where did the evidence land? Were there drugs visible? Was the club doing something illegal? Where were the cameras located? These things help and evidence disappears.
Sometimes media can help with this, too. They can bring cameras and get interviews and get information documented from moment one, especially since they usually arrive shortly after the police get there. Don’t call the media, let a lawyer handle that, but know that they may can help a case and victim tell their story.
phillips, hunt, walker & hanna (5) Please, please tell what you know
In every case, we see someone post something like “snitches get stitches” or seek to intimidate witnesses from talking. These killers are scary and fear of retaliation is real. I even own a bullet proof sport coat. I understand, but do you know what is more important? Closure and answers for the family. Justice. Not protecting a murderer and getting killers and people who shoot up clubs full of innocent people off of the street.
Crimestoppers will take tips anonymously. We can also do some things to protect identities, as can the police, but please tell an investigator or tip line if you saw something or if you later overhear something which gives information about the killer or shooter.
phillips, hunt, walker & hanna (6) Be Respectful of the Victims
There is a word when someone loses a spouse- “widow.” And there is a word when a child loses a parent- “orphan.” There is no word in the entire English language when a parent loses a child. It’s not supposed to happen. We must come together to stop the senseless killings. And let family properly mourn.
When we were hired in the Jordan Davis case, CNN was on the way down to Florida and affiliates from ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC and an independent station were banging on the door during our meeting to talk to the family. Families need to prepare and grieve. Let police, investigators and lawyers handle the details. If someone you know was injured or killed, recognize that these are literally the worst days for the family. Pray. Love. Give. But Be Respectful.
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