According to WTAJ, an off-duty police officer faces charges after being accused of shooting a man in the face at Invictus, located at 650 Du Bois St, DuBois, PA 15801.
Zachery Dodson, who was employed by the Curwensville Borough Police Department and was a deputy sheriff with the Clearfield County Sheriff’s Department, was arrested by DuBois police officers 18 seconds after they were sent to the bar on DuBois Street for a shooting in progress.
Joseph Morrison, the building owner, had taken the gun away from Dodson and pinned him to the ground. One person at the bar, Ani Myrtaj, was found with a gunshot wound to his face and was flown to UPMC Altoona and then to a hospital in Pittsburgh in stable condition.
According to court documents, Morrison told police he had warned Dodson about his aggressive behavior and had escorted him out of the bar, but Dodson had returned eight minutes later. As Morrison approached Dodson to tell him to leave again, Myrtaj put himself in between the two men. Dodson then pulled a pistol from a holster and pointed it at Morrison. The two men attempted to get the gun from Dodson, but it went off, sending a bullet into Myrtaj's jaw and exiting the back of his neck.
At a morning conference on Monday, Clearfield County District Attorney Ryan Sayers commended Morrison for his actions, saying they “saved lives and prevented a possible homicide.” Sayers also praised law enforcement in Clearfield County but said the incident could tarnish community support.
Dodson has been charged with felony aggravated assault, making terroristic threats, recklessly endangering another person, and simple assault.
Attorney contributor Brian Kent has experience representing bar shooting victims and their families in Pennsylvania. During a recent interview, Brian shared his thoughts on the legal rights available to victims shot at a bar.
Bars have a legal duty to “exercise reasonable care” to protect their customers and employees from foreseeable harm. This includes taking reasonable steps to protect against shootings and other violent crimes. Such steps may include implementing security measures such as metal detectors, hiring security guards, and installing surveillance cameras.
When a bar fails to take such reasonable steps to protect its employees and customers from foreseeable harm, it can be held liable for any injuries or deaths that occur as a result. Thus, victims of shootings at bars may be able to seek compensation from the bar under a theory of negligence.
Police departments also have a legal duty to ensure their officers are adequately vetted for misconduct. This includes conducting background checks, ensuring officers are properly trained, and regularly reviewing their use of force policies. When a police department fails to adequately vet their officers, it can be held liable for any harm that occurs as a result.
Victims of shootings at bars may be able to seek compensation from multiple negligent parties and in some cases, even pursue punitive damages. It is important for victims to understand their rights and seek legal advice from an experienced attorney if they wish to pursue a legal claim.