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.“