Appeals court upholds Cincinnati, police dismissal from Cameo lawsuit

Appeals court upholds Cincinnati, police dismissal from Cameo lawsuit
The front entrance of Cameo nightclub in March 2017 (FOX19 NOW/file)

CINCINNATI (FOX19) - An appeals court has upheld a Hamilton County judge’s decision to dismiss the city of Cincinnati and four Cincinnati police officers from a gross negligence lawsuit related to the Cameo nightclub shooting that left two men dead and wounded another 15 people.

Hamilton County Common Pleas Judge Patrick Dinkelacker ruled in 2018 that the officers had no legal duty to prevent weapons from being brought into the nightclub, court records show.

Late last month, the 1st District Court of Appeals agreed, saying the lawsuit didn’t establish a violation of duty by the officers. They were working an off-duty detail outside the club off Kellogg Avenue in the East End when a shootout occurred inside with hundreds of patrons inside in March 2017.

“Because the city was immune from liability as the officers were engaged in a governmental function when working a security detail outside Cameo Nightclub, and because the complaint failed to establish a violation of duty by the officers, the trial court did not err in granting the motion for judgment on the pleadings,and we affirm the judgement,” the appeals court decision reads in conclusion.

The club was supposed to be checking patrons for weapons, but at least three different guns made it inside, Cincinnati police have said.

The lawsuit, filed on behalf of the estate of one of the men killed, O’Bryan Spikes, 27, alleged the club’s manager, Julian Rodgers, created a secretly unsafe atmosphere by permitting some patrons to bypass security protocols at the entrance and enter without being screened for weapons.

The suit also alleges the four off-duty Cincinnati police officers who were working security details outside the club and the city also were negligent, accusing the officers of “turning a blind eye” to the side entrance and patrons paying more to get in with weapons.

Cameo Night Cub had a history of gun violence including a shooting inside the club on New Years Day 2015 and a shooting in the parking lot in September of the same year.

Police were called to the club upwards of 100 times since the beginning of 2016, city documents show.

Rodgers turned his liquor permit over to authorities the day after the shooting. He also released a statement rejecting claims that people paid to get into the club without being checked.

"There have been untrue reports that certain patrons were allowed to enter the Club without passing through security. This was not permitted," his statement read.

"There was no side door entrance. As is customary, two of the four privately paid uniformed Cincinnati Police officers that I hired who were working the off-duty detail were stationed at the door and had a clear view to observe our security procedures. They also assisted with the flow of the lines."

Spikes, who was with one of the two arguing groups, was hit with a stray bullet, the suit states.

He was not directly involved with the violence, Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters has said. Spikes also was not targeted and did not fire or have a gun.

The club permanently shut down March 31, 2017.

An attorney who represented Spikes’ estate, Chris Finney, declined comment on the appeals court decision.

So did an attorney for the club’s owner, Julian Rodgers.

We have reached out to spokesmen for the city and Cincinnati police and will update this story once we hear back.

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