Strip Club Found Liable For Shooting On Property
The recently closed King of Diamonds strip club is known around the world because countless rappers have immortalized it in song. Not far away, though, was a perhaps more notorious club.
Coco's over the years had been the site of multiple shootings and the arrest of a drug and weapons dealer named King Dread. One reviewer on Facebook warned in 2016, "If u want to live tomorrow, I suggest this not be the club u slide to."
With so many guns in America, much has been made about commercial property owners' liability for violent events. CRE owners and landlords are making changes to security protocols, venue design and insurance policies. In one recent legal case, a jury suggested that the owners of Coco's essentially should have expected a shootout.
On Christmas night in 2011, Christopher Nealy, a party promoter, was caught up in a parking lot shootout between feuding patrons at Coco's on Northwest 119th Street. Nealy was shot three times, resulting in an 11-day hospital stay, seven surgeries and a bullet that is still in him. In November, a jury found that the strip club was 37% liable for his injuries.
Coco’s is like "the Wild Wild West. They had it like an O.K. Corral, gun-slinging saloon,” attorney Reginald Mathis told the Daily Business Review.
“This place is like a pirate’s den,” said Mathis' fellow attorney, Bruce Jacobs. ”If you’re going to run that kind of business, you need to take care of people and protect them.”
The incident started when a man named Michael Prophet feuded with another patron, then ran outside and opened fire. Coco's security team shot and killed Prophet. Mathis and Jacobs argued that Coco’s had inadequate security.
The jury decided that the club was partly to blame for the shooting and handed down an $8.7M verdict, although the final judgement was reduced to $2.2M. The defense attorney for Coco's told the Miami Herald that the shooter, not the club, should have been liable.
“Our security wasn’t negligent," Martin Gilliam said. "It was shown we killed the assailant. We handled the assailant within four seconds after he fired at one of the patrons.”
Gilliam said he plans to appeal the ruling.
Meanwhile, the site of the since-closed Coco's is being reincarnated as a higher-end "gentlemen's club" called The Edge.