From the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle of June 10, 2006
Foiled robber claims he's the victim
Suit says workers who took gun away whacked him unnecessarily
Dana Buckman got more than he bargained for when he held up a Rochester auto-parts store on July 5, 2005.
Moments after Buckman brandished a 9mm semiautomatic pistol to steal cash from AutoZone at 569 Lyell Ave., employees Eli Crespo and Jerry Vega beat him with a metal pipe and held him at bay with his own gun.
Although a battered Buckman escaped when Crespo and Vega recovered the money and retreated into the store to call 911, he was arrested a week later, pleaded guilty to first-degree robbery and was sentenced to 18 years in prison as a repeat violent felon.
Now, however, Buckman is suing AutoZone and the two employees who walloped him, claiming they pursued him from the store, committed assault and battery and intentionally inflicted emotional distress.
"In some respects, you wonder if a case like this even needs a defense. It speaks for itself," said lawyer Patrick B. Naylon of the firm of Goldberg Segalla LLP, which represents AutoZone and the employees in the case.
But lawyer Phillip R. Hurwitz, who represented Buckman in the criminal case and also filed the civil suit in April in state Supreme Court, said Crespo and Vega crossed the line by pursuing Buckman and attacking him.
"The danger was past," Hurwitz said. "These two employees took it upon themselves to go after Mr. Buckman after he left the store."
The lawsuit isn't frivolous, Hurwitz said.
"Absolutely not," he said. "If it had happened in the store and they were defending themselves, it would be a whole different dynamic. These employees weren't defending themselves."
Naylon said he intends to vigorously defend the store and its employees.
"First, there were no charges brought against these individuals, which demonstrated that the police and the district attorney believed there was nothing wrong with catching the criminal who robbed the store," he said.
"Second, they did not pursue him. He had forced them to the back door, and he went out the front door and came around the corner to where they were. How ironic it is that this individual has the audacity to commence an action against the people who used his gun after he pointed the same gun at them. Please!"