Should past violent incidents at events like Halloween, Pink Saturday, and previous SF Pride celebrations have spurred Pride organizers to increase the level of security for their 2013 event? "Absolutely," says the attorney for the victim of a shooting at last year's Pride, which is why, he says, they are now suing the SF Pride committee for "not less than $10 million."
As a sometime model for The Tropicana, Trevor Gardner was used to working Pride celebrations. In early June, 2013, Gardner represented the Las Vegas resort at an uneventful LA Pride. His appearance at SF Pride later that month, however, was another matter, as he was a victim in one of two shootings at the event.
"A fight broke out, and went on and on" Ryan Lapine, Gardner's attorney, tells SFist. "Eventually someone pulled out a handgun and fired...shattering" a bone in Gardner's leg as he worked at the Tropicana's booth.
The LA-based Gardner, now aged 24, was "planning on becoming a personal trainer, so this has thrown his career plan into flux. He'll never be active or run again," Lapine says.
This sort of violence, Lapine says, doesn't happen at other Pride events—and it could have been prevented at SF Pride if organizers had erected fences and checked people as they entered the festival area, as Lapine argues is done elsewhere.
In a lawsuit filed in San Francisco Superior Court Thursday, Lapine lists violent incidents at what he describes as "comparable" San Francisco events, and tells SFist that these past shootings and stabbings suggest that the Pride Committee "should have expected" violence at Pride, 2013.
According to the lawsuit, "Notwithstanding the numerous Prior SF Pride and Halloween Shootings and Stabbings that have transformed the event into a Virtual shooting gallery in the high Crime Tenderloin, SF Pride Committee, on information and belief, failed to secure the perimeter of the event in 2013, allowed individuals to enter the event with little or no security screening, and failed to maintain an adequate security presence at the event."
It's worth noting, however, that the shooting that injured Gardner took place at 6:35 PM, well after the event had ended and presumably after any hypothetical perimeter might have been dismantled.
Nevertheless, SF Pride "should have been on notice," Lapine, a former San Francisco resident, tells SFist. But Pride's security wasn't sufficient enough to prevent Gardner's shooting, so he's now suing the Pride Committee "for actual damages in an amount that can be proven at trial, but that in any event is not less than $10,000,000" and "For such other and further relief as the court may deem proper."
The Pride committee had not responded to SFist's request for comment at publication time (nor did they respond to the BAR, which first reported on the suit).
Meanwhile, as far as we know, the suspect in the crime remains on the loose.
"I've heard running away," Lapine says, "but the guy just walked away. They have on idea who shot Trevor, because there was no security."