Carleeta Johnson wants justice for her mother, Bobbye Johnson.
In a lawsuit filed Tuesday, she claims that a lack of training led a security guard to fire a gun recklessly after a violent confrontation outside a Bronzeville liquor store. One of the bullets traveled four blocks and hit Johnson, a church-going grandmother who was headed to a bank to get rent money.
The security guard, Victor Brown, was named in the suit, along with his employer, Bounty Tac Force Security, and the three stores he was guarding.
Brown was shot in the leg during a confrontation with a man who was a known nuisance to the businesses he was hired to protect — a liquor store, a Jamaican jerk chicken restaurant and a video game store housed in the same building near 35th Street and Indiana Avenue.
It was about 4 p.m. Feb. 1 when Brown drew a starter pistol that contained only blanks and fired at his fleeing attacker, who was already more than a block away, prosecutors said.
Brown, 34, then grabbed another security guard’s gun, which contained live ammunition, and continued firing even though his attacker was blocks away and there were bystanders on the busy stretch of 35th Street, prosecutors said.
One of the bullets struck Johnson, 55, in the chest as she walked toward a bank nearly half a mile away.
A security camera recorded the shooting.
Brown was charged with first-degree murder. He was also charged with unlawful use of a weapon charge because, as a convicted felon, he is not allowed to possess a gun.
“If this man had been properly trained, this would not have happened,” Carleeta Johnson said Tuesday during a news conference at the law office of her attorney, Cannon Lambert.
“The first principle in business is safety first, and if you don’t have protocols in place that honor that principle then you’re falling short and that’s what we see here in this case and that’s why this family has been victimized,” Lambert said.
Representatives for Bounty Tac Force Security, Jamaican Jerk King, Wood’s Food and Liquor and Games R Us couldn’t be reached for comment.
Cook County court records show Brown has been arrested at least 10 times, including for illegal gun possession, battery, domestic battery and armed robbery.
Most of the cases were dropped, but he pleaded guilty to domestic battery in 2015 and armed robbery without a firearm in 2010. He was given 100 days in Cook County Jail on the first case and six years in the Illinois Department of Corrections on the other.
Lambert said a background check should have revealed a criminal record that should have prevented Brown from being hired as a security guard.
“If there’s a criminal record that exists where a man is responsible for robbery and at the same time you don’t find it, there’s a problem with your criminal background check,” Lambert said.
Carleeta Johnson said she doesn’t want the same thing to happen again.
“She will not die in vain,” she said.