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home : latest news : latest news November 25, 2015

9/28/2013 6:00:00 AM
Injured robber's lawsuit dismissed
Scott LaFonte
Scott LaFonte

PRESCOTT - Michael Lewis, who owns Mike's Mini-Mart on Gurley Street, was found not liable by a jury in a civil court case for the injuries sustained by a man he shot during a robbery in September 2011.

Scott LaFonte, 37, filed the suit after the county attorney declined to charge Lewis, 50, in the shooting. He asked for unspecified damages, as well as lost wages and medical expenses. The lawsuit claimed that Lewis, who knew LaFonte, was "motivated by spite or ill will" when he shot LaFonte three times on Sept. 14, 2011, outside the store at 924 E. Gurley Street.

A Prescott Police report said Lewis claimed LaFonte, a regular customer, put a 12-pack of beer on the checkout counter, asked for cigarettes, and then pulled a knife. He told Lewis "not to come after him or he would stab him," and left the store without paying, the report said.

Lewis took a .40 caliber Glock pistol from his vehicle, and chased LaFonte, and LaFonte came toward Lewis with the knife, the report said. Lewis "fired one warning shot in the air," and when LaFonte came within six to eight feet of him, Lewis shot him three times, the report said. Lewis then called police.

Police examined a surveillance tape, which showed the initial confrontation, but not the shooting, the report said, although it did seem to show LaFonte approaching the store after Lewis went outside.

Lewis and his wife, who was also working at the store at the time, were taken to the police station and interviewed. Police referred to case to the Yavapai County Attorney's Office, but it did not file charges.

LaFonte's lawsuit argued that Mike's Mini-Mart did not have "a policy regarding the safe and lawful use of firearms," and that it had not trained its employees in safe gun use "including the dangers of 'warning shots.'"

It also claimed that Lewis was not in "imminent fear of danger" when LaFonte was "walking, stumbled, (and) staggered through the parking lot."

On Sept. 13, two years after the shooting, a jury found in favor of Lewis in the civil suit. Presiding Superior Court Judge David L. Mackey noted that the claims were dismissed with prejudice and that LaFonte could not file an appeal of any kind.

Reached by the Daily Courier, Lewis said, "It's done and finished, and I'm moving on with my life."

Follow the reporter on Twitter @AZNewsguy.

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• Police: Store owner shoots robber

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Reader Comments

Posted: Wednesday, October 16, 2013
Article comment by: Brian Brinkley

The store owner should have shot the robber immediately. End of discussion.

Posted: Wednesday, October 02, 2013
Article comment by: Alicia Florrick

Article comment by: Atticus Finch

Why wasn't the suit voided by "Arizona's crime victims protection act"?

Atticus, as I understand it, the Crime Victims Protection Act focused on suits arising from the commission or attempted commission of felony crimes. Since the perpetrator committed an armed robbery, one would think this case would be fairly cut and dried, but things are not always what they seem on the surface.
According to the article, the suit was partially based on the reasonableness of the store ownerís decision to pursue the perpetrator, as he was no longer in imminent danger of death or serious bodily injury. Under Arizona law, that is a reasonable inquiry. A court will generally allow such a suit to proceed if the judge believes that there is a reasonable possibility that the suit can succeed on the merits of its claims. Iím assuming, based on the information provided, that this is what happened here. As Iím not intimately familiar with the case, this is only an assumption, but itís a reasonable one, again, based on the information provided.

Posted: Monday, September 30, 2013

Even though Lafonte was in the wrong he left the store so therefor Mr Lewis was no longer in danger he proceeded to his car and chased after Lafonte that's where he broke the law he was no longer in danger for his life the danger left.I can't believe they didn't charge him with Agg Assault or something.I think he's very lucky and should play the lottery often because he escaped a prison term.And for those of you who don't think so look it up it's the law.

Posted: Monday, September 30, 2013
Article comment by: Alicia Florrick

In the absence of any formal requirement, judges can use "equitable remedy" requiring the loser to pay both attorneys as well as court costs. Since this hoax of a trial was obviously unfair to the defendant and a waste of the court's time, In my opinion Judge Mackey should have so ordered.

Posted: Saturday, September 28, 2013
Article comment by: Atticus Finch

Why wasn't the suit voided by "Arizona's crime victims protection act"?

Posted: Saturday, September 28, 2013
Article comment by: c glisson

This was a joke. The judge that allowed this to go to trial should be removed for wasting time and money. Mr. Lewis should train all who work for him to do two body mass shots, then one between the eyes. I was sued for shooting a burglar. The burglar lost suit, but still screwed up a few lives for a few years. I then sued him for attorney cost. Won. Still waiting. There wont be a second time.

Posted: Saturday, September 28, 2013
Article comment by: Sin Ical

The attorney who assisted in filing the lawsuit should be dibarred. Even one hour of court time spent on this case was a waste or taxpayers money.

Posted: Saturday, September 28, 2013
Article comment by: Reed Winfrey

Sounds like the only bad decision was to rob the market. I support the other decisions totally.

Posted: Saturday, September 28, 2013
Article comment by: Dick Marley

Lewis should not have fired the warning shot.

Posted: Saturday, September 28, 2013
Article comment by: Yukon Jack

Thank goodness for a common sense verdict! Moral to the story: Pursuing a life of crime can be hazardous to your health. And rightfully so!

The sad part to this story is Mr. Lewis' legal bill. this lawsuit should never have been allowed to come to court in the first place!

Posted: Saturday, September 28, 2013
Article comment by: reality hits you hard bro

I hope you learned not to bring a knife to a gunfight Scott.

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