CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - A second lawsuit was filed Monday over the Cameo Night Club shooting, and this one is from the estate of the man shot dead inside.
O'Bryan Spikes, 27, was one of two men killed and among the total 17 shot in the Kellogg Avenue club the early morning hours of March 26.
Hundreds of patrons were inside when a gunfight broke out during a dispute among several people in two feuding groups from Madisonville and Price Hill, authorities have said.
The club was supposed to be checking patrons for weapons, but at least three different guns made it inside, Cincinnati police have said.
The gross negligence lawsuit alleges club manager Julian Rodgers created a secretly unsafe atmosphere for patrons by permitting some to bypass security protocols at the entrance and enter without being screened for weapons.
Rodgers extracted an additional cover charge from clubgoers to enter through an alternate side entrance where they were permitted in without weapons, according to the suit.
"Faced with the choice of complying with the law or creating an unsafe environment without warning would be patrons of the danger, Rodgers chose profit over people," the suit states.
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 has 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.
The club permanently shut down March 31.
The landlord, The Kellogg Group LLC, failed to terminate its lease with JRODG and/or Cameo despite knowing of repetitive and criminal activity occurring on the premises, or take any reasonable measures to prevent it, the suit alleges.
Rodgers, Kellogg Group and/or lawyers on their behalf could not be immediately reached for comment Saturday.
Telephone numbers listed for Rodgers and the club are no longer in service. No phone number could be immediately found for the Kellogg Group.
After the shooting, Rodgers 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.
He entered the club through the entrance that screened for weapons;
"Had the Armed Patrons been required to enter through the main entrance and pass through security, the Armed Patrons would not have been armed inside of Cameo, and Spikes would not have been shot and killed," the suit alleges.
Maikel Steele, administrator of Spikes' estate and the mother of his three children, is the plaintiff in the suit being filed by the Chris Finney Law Firm.
Named as defendants are:
- The club
- Cameo Nightclub manager Julian Rodgers
- Jrodg Group LLC
- Building owner Kellogg Group
- The city of Cincinnati
- Four Cincinnati police officers working off-duty security details outside the club: Diondre Winstead, Joehonny Reese, David Dozier and Brian Brazile.
The officers "breached their duty to protect patrons, including Spikes, by turning a blind eye to the Security Bypass despite their knowledge of its use and likelihood of harm resulting from the Security Bypass," the suit states.]
A spokesman for Cincinnati police, Lt. Steve Saunders, deferred comment Saturday to the city's law department.
A spokesman for the city of Cincinnati, Rocky Merz, said the city will not comment on ongoing litigation matters.
Sgt. Dan Hils, president of the union that represents Cincinnati police, also declined comment Saturday.
In an interview, attorney Chris Finney said: "Cincinnati police actively colluded with this club owner to allow the kind of policies that we are talking about. Again, this club has a history of violence. The police knew exactly what was going on and they colluded with the club owner to allow the guns to come into the facility.
"It's unfortunate. Cincinnati police, we think, had full knowledge of what was going on and whether you call it turning a blind or whether it was actively colluding with the security forces of the club owner, it is sort of immaterial. They knew what was going on. They allowed the dangerous situation to happen that endangered lives that night."
An analysis of Cincinnati Police Department off-duty logs by our news partners at the Cincinnati Enquirer showed three of the four officers working outside the club were familiar with operations there.
The Enquirer analysis showed:
- Three of the officers worked such details for the owners of Cameo almost every Saturday night over the previous 12 months.
- Officer Dozier worked almost every Saturday night dating back to April 2016, leading up to the shootout.
- Officer Brazille worked at the club for nine straight Saturdays early this year before March 26.
- Officer Reese worked Cameo 10 Saturdays in 2017, including the night of the shootings, and the shift 14 times in 2016.
- Officer Winstead worked Cameo for two Saturdays prior to the shootout and worked that night, but had not worked at Cameo before.
Cincinnati Police Chief Eliot Isaac has praised the officers for their quick response in helping the victims of the shooting.
Isaac also previously has said that the club did not have a formal agreement with CPD to check for weapons, but that such a procedure would not have been the responsibility of the off-duty officers.
The officers were "responsible for outside security," he said back in March.
The officers were not allowed inside the establishment during their shift under CPD regulations.
The department does not permit those working an off-duty detail to be stationed inside any business that serves or sells alcohol, including bars, restaurants and liquor stores.
CPD policy also prohibits officers from participating in private security operations at such businesses.
The suit demands a jury trial and compensatory and punitive damages suffered by Spikes' next of kin as a result of his death in an amount to be determined at trial but in excess of $25,000, together with court costs, attorney fees and any further relief the court sees fit.
Spikes left behind three small children: two daughters, O'Bryanna, 7 and Arielle, 1, and a son, O'Zayvion, who turned 6 on Saturday.
"The hope is that his kids get taken care of," said their mother, Maikel Steele. "I feel like whatever comes in is for their father's support, in my eyes, because he always took care of his kids. He never skipped a beat with taking care of his kids, so I feel like this is justice for him that he gets the justice he needs and can rest easy and that his kids can have a future, from college to whatever they need, they have."
Finney said the ultimate goal of the lawsuit is to effect change to try to ensure a mass shooting like the one at Cameo never happens again.
He said he hopes to learn more about exactly what transpired - who knew what and when - during the lawsuit's discovery process and ultimately "change the city and police department's policies and procedures to be more vigilant in working with these club owners or shutting down the bad clubs to make sure that these kind of bad situations don't reoccur."
Steele said she has been to Cameo before and saw patrons paying to get in without being checked for weapons.
"I've been to Cameo several times," she said. 'It could be somewhere between $50 to $100, just depending how the security feels."
This is the second lawsuit filed over the shootout.
Eight shooting victims sued back in June, alleging it could have been prevented.
The other man who died in the shooting, Deondre Davis, 29, succumbing to his injuries days later at University of Cincinnati Medical Center.
Davis and Cornell Beckley, 27, were charged with murder in Spikes' death.
Police also have said they are searching for a third, unidentified suspect.
Under Ohio's "transfer of intent" laws, anyone shooting in the club that night will be charged with Spikes' murder, Deters has said.
Investigators have said they believe Beckley fired the first shots.
Beckley stood on the club stage and fired least four shots from a .25 caliber revolver into the crowd, according to Deters.
Davis then fired a .40 caliber Glock at least eight times.
Beckley and Davis were not legally allowed to carry firearms, according to Deters.
Police recovered both guns along with a 9mm weapon believed to belong to the unidentified third suspect.