Video evidence was crucial to persuading a jury to award millions to the victim of a shooting outside an infamous Miami strip club, according to one of the attorneys who represented the plaintiff.
Former party promoter Christoper Nealy, who was shot three times outside Coco's on Christmas night, 2011, was awarded $8.7 million after the jury found the night club did not provide enough security for a party where the potential for violence was high as two rival rappers were both booked to perform.
Nealy was shot three times outside the club as rival gangs squared off. The alleged shooter, Michael Prophet, was fatally shot by security, a killing that was later ruled justified.
Attorney Bruce Jacobs, who along with Reginald Mathis represented Nealy, described the night club to the jury and the Florida Record as a "pirate's den."
He further characterized the club as a Wild West saloon, one that should not be open, but if it is, then proper security should be in place.
The club's owner, Cosmic Corp., has indicated it will file an appeal.
“We believe the jury’s verdict was based on sympathy, not on the law,” the club’s lawyer, Martin Gilliam, told the Miami Herald. “Our security wasn’t negligent. It was shown we killed the assailant. We handled the assailant within four seconds after he fired at one of the patrons.”
Jacobs said the defense focused on blaming his client, who underwent seven surgeries following the shooting which destroyed his life.
But an attempt to point the finger of blame at Nealy by claiming he started a fight inside the club then forced his way outside against the wishes of security was clearly contradicted by video evidence, Jacobs said.
Nealy, a rapper who went by the name S.O Certified, helped promote nights at events at the club. His attorney said he has not been able to work since the shooting.