A Murrieta businessman whose sports bar was the scene of a fatal shooting involving a Riverside County sheriff’s deputy is suing the county and the deputy for damaging the reputation of his business.
A complaint filed Monday, July 9 in Riverside Superior Court said Joe Spellman’s bar, Spelly’s Pub & Grille, has suffered $20,000 in lost revenues monthly since the December 2011 shooting.
“When a place gets a reputation as a place you get killed in, it has a negative effect on your business,” said Spellman’s attorney, Robert P. Karwin.
The Dec. 21 shooting was the second killing in two days in Murrieta, which until that week hadn’t had a murder in nearly two years.
Dayle William Long, 42, was a 10-year veteran of the Sheriff’s Department and a deputy in a Riverside courthouse before his Dec. 21 arrest. He is accused of fatally shooting 36-year-old Samuel Vanettes during an argument at the sports bar.
A judge ruled in March there was enough evidence to try Long for murder.
The lawsuit alleges the county was negligent in its hiring and training of Long, and that the deputy was technically on duty at the time of the shooting. County officials have previously said Long, who witnesses said was drinking that night, was off-duty.
A spokeswoman for the Sheriff’s Department, Sgt. Lisa McConnell, said the department has not been served with the suit yet and does not comment on pending lawsuits.
A sheriff’s spokesman said in March that Long was no longer an employee.
Karwin said Spelly’s, which was about 2 years old at the time of the shooting, is slowly recovering from the negative image it got from the incident. The pub is expected to survive, but Spellman has gone months without taking a salary to make ends meet, Karwin said.
“The business has been on the brink of failing since this happened, and it was a huge rising star in Murrieta,” Karwin said.
BY JOHN F. HILL
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