|2 ex-Duquesne players shot in 2006 sue university|
|Written by Admin|
|Monday, 23 June 2008 08:24|
Kojo Mensah and Shawn James accuse the university of not providing adequate security at an on-campus dance after which they and three teammates were shot, according to federal lawsuits filed Monday.
The players filed separate but nearly identical lawsuits in U.S. District Court in Pittsburgh. They allege the university could have prevented the September 2006 shooting by keeping out nonstudents and by providing better security.
The two are seeking unspecified punitive damages.
Mensah, a guard who was shot in the shoulder and arm, and James, a center who was shot in the foot, also accused coach Ron Everhart of forcing them to practice, work out and play before they had recovered from their injuries. James specifically claims Everhart forced him to remove a therapeutic boot from his injured foot during practice.
``This occurred on multiple occasions,'' according to the lawsuit, which also alleges that as a result Mensah and James have ``suffered severe and permanent physical injuries, as well as severe emotional distress.''
Duquesne declined to comment on the lawsuits. Frederick Bode, the university's attorney, did not immediately return a call seeking comment.
According to the lawsuits, the university should be held negligent in the shooting because a then-Duquesne student had asked a security guard at the door if her friends would be frisked upon entering the dance. The guard failed to alert authorities and allowed the men to enter, according to the lawsuit.
After the dance, one of those men became upset when a woman with them flirted with the players. An argument ensued and two gunmen opened fire after the athletes had turned to walk away.
Along with Mensah and James, the other injured players were Sam Ashaolu, Aaron Jackson and Stuard Baldonado.
Baldonado left school last fall after several off-campus run-ins with authorities. He has also sued the university, alleging it failed to provide adequate security at the dance. Ashaolu, who received head wounds, is in school but is not playing basketball.
Jackson, a senior-to-be who was the least seriously wounded with a minor hand injury, remains on the team.
Mensah had transferred to Duquesne from Siena and James left Northeastern after two seasons to play for the Dukes. The duo, former prep school teammates who both grew up in Brooklyn, N.Y., decided earlier this year to pass up their final season of eligibility to play professionally.
In October, gunman William B. Holmes II, pleaded guilty to the shootings and was sentenced to up to 40 years in prison. The other gunman, Derek Lee, was also sentenced to up to 14 years in prison after pleading guilty to attempted homicide and other charges.
Former university student Brittany Jones, who admitted to knowingly helping her armed friends into the dance, was sentenced to two years of probation.