RIVERSIDE, Calif. (CN) – A drunk, on-duty sheriff’s deputy shot a man to death in a bar in Murrieta, ruining the pub’s reputation, the pub owner claims in Superior Court.
Joe Spellman, who owns Spelly’s Pub and Grille, sued Riverside County and Dayle Long, whom he claims entered the bar on Dec. 21, 2011 and “consumed alcohol to the point of intoxication.”
“He then engaged in a verbal confrontation with Samuel Vanettes, a patron of Spelly’s. The verbal confrontation escalated. Long drew his county issued sidearm, shot at and killed Vanettes,” Spellman claims in the complaint.
The Riverside Press-Enterprise reported in March that after Long shot the man, he told bar patrons, “It’s OK. I’m a cop.”
In his complaint, Spellman says that as a peace officer, Long’s actions were especially negligent.
“At all relevant times, defendant Long and Does 1-25 were police officers employed by defendants Riverside County Sheriff’s Department and Does 26-50, and were therefore looked upon as holding a superior duty of care to prevent harm to individuals and businesses,” the complaint states. “In the context of this special relationship, plaintiffs are informed and believe and thereon allege that defendant Long and Does 1-25 negligently, carelessly, wantonly, recklessly and unlawfully breached his duty of care to the community and failed to protect plaintiffs from any such further acts, thereby resulting in the injuries and damages described below.”
Spellman also claims Riverside County and its Sheriff’s Department “were negligent, careless, reckless and unlawful in the manner in which they selected, hired, trained and supervised” Long, contributing to Spellman’s damages.
“The acts of the defendants, and each of them, showed a complete and total disregard for the standards of their profession and the well-being of plaintiffs, and these acts caused plaintiffs irreparable financial, physical, mental and emotional discomfort and harm. Specifically, prior to Dec. 21, 2011, Spelly’s was a successful, thriving local business. After the incident on Dec. 21, 2011, Spelly’s has suffered economic losses of approximately $20,000 per month due to the reputation of Spelly’s as a dangerous establishment directly and proximately caused by the acts of the defendants. This loss in revenue has also resulted in lost earnings, emotional/mental discomfort and harm with physical manifestations on the part of plaintiff Joe Spellman in his capacity as owner and employee of Spelly’s,” the complaint states.
Spellman seeks damages for intentional interference with prospective economic advantage, negligence, negligent hiring, and Fourth Amendment violations.
“The excessive physical force used by the defendants against Samuel Vanettes violated plaintiffs’ Fourth Amendment rights to be free from damages arising from public officials’ use of excessive force,” according to the complaint.
The Press-Enterprise reported in its March 5 story that a Riverside County judge ruled there is enough evidence to try Long, 42, for murder. His bail was set at $1 million.
The Press-Enterprise reported that Long was a 10-year veteran of the Riverside Sheriff’s Department and worked as a deputy at a county courthouse. A sheriff’s spokesperson confirmed that Long was fired on March 1, the newspaper said.
The Press-Enterprise reported that Long was off-duty at the time of the shooting, contradicting what Spellman alleges in his complaint.
The newspaper said Long had been seen playing darts with Samuel Vanettes earlier in the evening, and that Vanettes, 36, invited the officer to his table for drinks where Long drank heavily, made odd remarks and argued about trivial things.
The newspaper reported that a witness, who is the boyfriend of Vanettes’ sister, testified at a preliminary hearing that Vanettes help up his hands after Long drew his gun.
“He said, ‘What are you gonna do? Shoot me?'” the newspaper reported.
The argument ended with Long “firing four or five shots in quick succession until Vanettes fell to the ground” with a bullet hole in his cheek, according to the Press-Enterprise.
Spellman seeks punitive damages from Long and Riverside County. He is represented by Robert Karwin of Menifee.