Jury awards $4.8 million to mother of man fatally shot by security guard at CHA complex

The shootout happened June 18, 2016, at the ABLA-Robert Brooks Homes, leaving Eric Knox dead and two security guards wounded, according to the lawsuit.

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Eric Knox was fatally shot and two security guards were wounded in a June 18, 2016, shooting in the ABLA-Robert Brooks Homes.

Eric Knox was fatally shot and two security guards were wounded in a June 18, 2016, shooting in the ABLA-Robert Brooks Homes.

Matthew Hendrickson/Sun-Times

A jury awarded $4.8 million to the mother of a man who was fatally shot by a security guard at a Chicago Housing Authority complex in 2016.

Ulisa Howell-Darby, mother and independent administrator of the estate of Eric Knox, sued Kates Detective & Security Services Agency in 2017 for the June 18, 2016, shooting at the ABLA-Robert Brooks Homes that left her son dead, according to the lawsuit. A jury ruled Tuesday that the Kates guard who shot Knox was responsible for his death.

“The jury understood that there was no reason for what happened that night,” said attorney Ben Crane of Coplan & Crane, which represented Howell-Darby in the case. “The negligent actions of the security guards led to this tragic loss of life.”

Knox, who was 24 at the time, was outside at a party at the ABLA around 3:40 a.m. when four Kates security guards pulled up and a shooting broke out, according to court records.

Knox, who lived in the Humboldt Park neighborhood, was shot twice in the back and driven by friends to University of Chicago Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead at 3:50 a.m., according to police reports and the Cook County medical examiner’s office.

Two guards were also struck by gunfire and taken to Stroger Hospital, where their conditions were stabilized, police said.

Crane said that Kates’ defense attorneys argued that Knox was the aggressor and started an altercation with the guards before the shooting. The guards fired in self defense, they claimed.

But Crane said that witnesses recounted that Knox had a gun, but he never fired it. He was with two other men who did the shooting, they claimed.

A .45 pistol was found in the center console of the car that took Knox to the emergency room, Crane said. The gun was separated from its magazine and had no fingerprints.

Shell casings from the gun could not be found at the scene, but authorities determined that a bullet pulled from one of the wounded guards’ vest came from the same kind of gun.

“It came down to us having to prove that he didn’t shoot this gun,” Crane said. “Eric Knox was dead within seconds of getting hit, so he couldn’t have separated the magazine, wiped the gun of fingerprints and picked up the shell casings.”

Crane said the guards described the shooter in statements given to their employer and police investigating the incident, but none of them resembled Knox.

“Nothing matched in any way,” Crane said. “We were able to show these contradictions and that it doesn’t fit Knox.”

Representatives for Kates did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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