COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — The mother of a man who died after an altercation with a Kroger security guard has sued the guard, his employer and the grocery store.
Charlee Cooper, the mother of 26-year-old Paris Royal, sued the Cincinnati-based grocery giant in Franklin County court in March, two months after Royal’s death. Royal died after being shot during a fight with a security guard employed by Columbus security company Reliable Protection Services.
In the complaint, Cooper claimed the guard “unreasonably exercised deadly force” by shooting Royal during the altercation, and that Royal’s death was the result of Kroger’s negligence.
The complaint claims Royal entered the Kroger at 3600 Soldano Blvd. on the evening of Jan. 15 to “check on the well-being of his girlfriend” when he was confronted by the security guard. The guard escalated the altercation, according to the complaint, and Royal acted with “due care for his own safety.” Cooper alleged it was then that the guard drew his firearm and shot Royal.
Royal was taken to Grant Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead at 7:17 p.m.
Shortly after the shooting, Columbus police said the security guard was in an altercation with a woman when Royal intervened and “began fighting” the guard. At the time, Columbus police said “shots were fired” during the fight, striking Royal, but did not explain whether the guard intentionally fired his gun.
Columbus police did not respond to a request for information about the investigation. The guard has not been charged in the incident, according to court records.
In its response, Kroger denied it acted negligently, favoring a version of the shooting similar to what Columbus police said in January. Royal was the “physical aggressor” against the security guard and compelled the guard to act in self-defense, Kroger argued.
Even accepting Cooper’s retelling, Kroger cannot be held liable for Royal’s death, the company argued in its response, citing its contract with Reliable Protection Services. The contract, which Kroger did not include in the filings due to “confidential and proprietary” information, waived Kroger’s liability in all lawsuits and legal proceedings arising from the contractor’s actions or a breach of contract.
“Reliable was solely and exclusively responsible for the acts of its security guard while on the Kroger premises,” Kroger’s response read.
Cooper seeks $25,000 in damages against Kroger, Reliable Protection Services and the guard. Kroger has demanded a jury trial.
Reliable Protection Services has responded to neither the complaint nor NBC4’s request for comment. Attorneys representing Kroger and Cooper did not return requests for comment.
Read Cooper’s complaint and Kroger’s response below.