Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Bar popular among St. Louis cops settles lawsuit over woman's death in 2014 shootout

ST. LOUIS • Three siblings whose mother was killed in a 2014 robbery and shootout at a St. Louis tavern popular with police have settled a lawsuit with the bar’s owners and a bartender over the woman’s death.

Diana Lawrence, 63, was fatally shot in December 2014 during a shootout at Pooh's Corner in St. Louis.

August, Jody and Charles Lombardo on Tuesday reached a $450,000 settlement with Pooh’s Corner, 6023 Virginia Avenue, in a lawsuit that blamed the bar for Diana Lawrence’s death. The suit, filed in 2016 by the Lombardos in St. Louis Circuit Court, claimed the bar’s owners failed to provide a guard, surveillance or a secure entry system and didn’t prevent armed patrons from drinking.

The suit named the bar, owners Debra and Leonard King, S&K Holdings Inc. and bartender Kitty Bonny. The settlement, approved Tuesday by St. Louis Associate Circuit Judge David Roither, says the three Lombardo siblings will split $267,864 evenly, with the rest going to their lawyers.

Derreaun Davis, Corey Wade and at least one other man burst in shortly before 11 p.m. on Dec. 2, 2014, and ordered everyone to the floor, police said. One robber fired a shot into the ceiling and a shootout followed.

Lawrence, 63, was hit in the head and died the next day. Three others, including retired St. Louis Officer Danny Atkins, were wounded.

Atkins had been drinking at the bar and shot and wounded Davis and Wade, who are now serving two consecutive life sentences with the possibility of parole.

The suit claimed Atkins was “visibly intoxicated” and that Pooh’s should not have served him knowing he was armed. Debra King has credited Atkins with saving lives, saying in 2014: “I do believe had he not been there, everyone would be dead.”

The suit also claimed Bonny, the bartender, went for her gun under the bar, contributing to what the Lombardos’ lawyer Matt O’Grady called a “wild-west shootout.”

Police were called to the bar 44 times from 2004-14 for incidents including thefts, fights, burglary, assault and arson, the suit claimed. It also claimed an attempted holdup in 2008, when Atkins was bartending and shot one of two robbers.

Jody Lombardo is the mother of Nicholas Gilbert, 27, who died in police custody in December 2015 after struggling with St. Louis officers in a holding cell at the department’s Central Patrol Division. She and the man’s father have a pending federal lawsuit against the city over that, claiming the department and 10 officers were responsible for Gilbert’s death.


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