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Bar-shooting settlement precedes guilty plea

Scott Lauck//April 19, 2019//

Bar-shooting settlement precedes guilty plea

Scott Lauck//April 19, 2019//

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A St. Louis County bar agreed to pay $1.22 million to the family of a man who was shot and killed after an argument about the weight of a dog became heated.

The March 12 settlement came exactly one month before defendant Neal Myers pleaded guilty on April 12 to involuntary manslaughter in the death of Scott Beary. Myers’ plea came at the end of a weeklong trial in St. Louis County. The jury deadlocked after Myers argued that he had acted in self-defense.

According to court records, Beary, a husband and father of three, was shot and killed at Show-Me’s Sports Bar and Grill on Feb. 7, 2018. A Florissant Police Department report says that Beary and Myers “exchanged words.” The case drew widespread attention in and around St. Louis, as Beary and Myers had been arguing about the weight and capabilities of a German shepherd police dog.

As Beary and another man were leaving the bar, Myers “made disparaging remarks” to Beary, according to the police report. Beary punched Myers, who drew a firearm from his pocket and fired several shots, according to the report. Beary died, and another man, Ryan Jacobsmeyer, was struck in the arm.

In the civil case, Jim O’Leary and Michael Dalton, attorneys for Beary’s family, filed a premises-liability action against NOCO Entertainment Inc., which does business as Show Me’s, alleging it did not provide reasonable security. The suit, which named the decedent’s family members only by their initials, alleged the bar should have removed the assailant or called the police after the argument started and before the physical altercation started. The bar also should have warned the decedent of the dangerous propensities of the assailant, according to the suit.

The suit also alleged the bar failed to properly hire, train and supervise its employees, and that Show-Me’s violated its duty to not knowingly serve intoxicating beverages to the assailant, who allegedly was visibly intoxicated.

The parties settled for the remaining policy limits of $1.22 million. Judge Ellen Ribaudo approved the settlement in open court on March 12. Attorneys with DeFranco & Bradley, listed in court records as representing NOCO Entertainment, didn’t return a call seeking comment. Prior to the settlement, the company had argued in court filings that Myers was to blame for the altercation.

In the criminal case, Myers was charged with second-degree murder for Beary’s death, first-degree assault for Jacobsmeyer’s wounding, and two counts of armed criminal action. After jurors debated throughout the day on April 12 but were unable to agree on a verdict, prosecutors dropped all but the murder count, and Myers agreed to plead guilty to the lesser charge. Judge Joseph Dueker sentenced Myers to five years in prison.

Prosecutors had argued that Myers provoked the fight by shouting insults at Beary, and that he had moved his gun from his holster to his pocket several minutes before the encounter. But Myers’ defense attorney, Scott Rosenblum of Rosenblum, Schwartz & Fry, argued that Myers acted in lawful self-defense after Beary charged and attacked him. He said his client took the plea offer because of the uncertainty of what a future jury might do.

“I think the law was on our side, maybe the emotions were on the other side,” he said.

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