Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 7 / 15 February 2018

Trial starts in '13
SF Pride shooting


Plaintiff Trevor Gardner, shown outside of court Monday. Photo: Rick Gerharter
Print this Page
Send to a Friend
Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
Share on MySpace!

An attorney for a man who was shot at the 2013 San Francisco LGBT Pride celebration told prospective jurors this week that organizers had done nothing to prevent the incident, and he suggested that the hundreds of thousands of people who attend the annual party should have to go through metal detectors and have their bags checked.

But an attorney representing the San Francisco LGBT Pride Celebration Committee in the lawsuit filed last year by Trevor Gardner, 25, of Los Angeles, said the shooting in the city's Civic Center area was "a random act of violence," and SF Pride had done extensive work to protect attendees.

Meanwhile, San Francisco Superior Court Judge Suzanne Bolanos, who's overseeing the case, this week warned both sides to "be respectful" toward each other as tempers started to rise.

Attorney Ryan Lapine, who's representing Gardner, told potential jurors Tuesday that SF Pride organizers "do not follow industry customs and standards" by not checking people's bags or having metal detectors, among other tactics.

Gardner, "a trained gymnast," had been working as a model at the Tropicana Las Vegas booth June 30, 2013 when someone in the area became upset that alcohol sales at the festival had ended. (The shooting occurred just after 6:30 p.m., when the celebration had officially concluded.)

Because there was "no security," Lapine said, the "brawl" that erupted resulted in Gardner being shot in the leg.

"No one broke it up, even though they should have," Lapine said of the fight, and Gardner was "left on the street bleeding"

"This entity did nothing," he said. "They went and hid."

SF Pride attorney Maria Caruana told the approximately 150 prospective jurors that Gardner's shooting was "a random act of violence."

She said contrary to what jurors would hear about there being no security at the event, SF Pride "relies on the San Francisco Police Department to provide a safe environment for everyone in attendance," and in 2013, the committee also had help from safety volunteers and three security companies.

"The plaintiff will ask you to ignore all that San Francisco Pride does each year to produce this event," Caruana said. "... Security and safety is a primary concern."

Prior to the 2013 festival, she said, "each and every permit for this event was approved without objection, seamlessly," by city officials.

She added that measures a security expert testifying for Gardner would suggest would be "impracticable and ineffectual."

Lapine also referred to some violent incidents that have been associated with SF Pride but weren't directly related to the event. For example, he alluded to the 2010 killing of Stephen Powell, 19, at the end of the Pink Saturday celebration in the Castro.

Pink Saturday was for decades organized by the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, a nonprofit unrelated to SF Pride. The Sisters opted not to produce the party this year, citing concerns over years of violence.

Gardner has consistently appeared in the courthouse with no obvious injuries, but Lapine said he continues to experience pain, and his ability to work is limited.

In his 2014 complaint, Gardner said he was seeking "not less than $10 million." Lapine said Tuesday that his client isn't seeking punitive damages, but funds for medical expenses and other costs.


Sparring in court

SF Pride's finances have been a contentious issue in the proceedings leading up to the trial, and they inspired some of the sparring that's already happened between attorneys.

The nonprofit, which has contributed more than $2.4 million to other organizations since 1997, had a budget this year of $2 million. Lapine has said the committee has a $5 million insurance policy.

On Monday, as she went over motions attorneys had filed in the case, Bolanos said that as she understood it, Lapine didn't want Caruana to be able to tell jurors that a judgment against SF Pride "could somehow prevent the committee from continuing to put on the gay Pride event" or that it could damage the LGBT community.

Caruana said, "Before I read that" in documents filed by Gardner's attorneys, "the thought had never crossed my mind." However, she said, SF Pride "doesn't necessarily have infinite resources."

Lapine said that he wanted to be able to talk about SF Pride's insurance policy if SF Pride's attorneys were able to imply it couldn't pay damages.

Bolanos said it would be "fine" to mention the committee is a nonprofit, "but talking about budget concerns is really not relevant."

At that point, Caruana noted the Bay Area Reporter 's presence in the room, and said Lapine was just talking about the insurance policy in order to "taint" the jury pool.

Lapine again criticized what he predicted would be Caruana's plans.

Bolanos told the attorneys, "This is going to be a long trial" and asked them to "make an effort to be respectful of each other."

The trial could take until December 18 to conclude. Bolanos warned jurors they may have to come back to court in early January, after the holidays, if the verdict hasn't been reached before the December date.

Gardner has also sued Tropicana over the shooting incident. The status of that case wasn't immediately clear Tuesday.

Eric Ryan, who was also shot in the 2013 incident at Pride, has also filed a lawsuit against SF Pride.


Follow The Bay Area Reporter
facebook logo
facebook logo
Newsletter logo
Newsletter logo
ISSUU logo