Civil trial begins in Aurora theater shooting

Posted at 10:48 AM, May 10, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-11 07:52:16-04

Opening statements have wrapped up and testimony is beginning in a civil trial over whether the company that owns a Colorado movie theater should have done more to prevent a 2012 mass shooting there.

One juror was dismissed before opening statements Monday. Juror No. 1 was excused because of child care issues. Seven jurors remain, six will be asked to decide whether, in an age of mass shootings, Cinemark should have foreseen the shooting that left 12 dead and more than 70 others injured.

Twenty-eight victims and their families are suing the theater company in state court. Their lawsuit says Cinemark should have had silent alarms and armed guards at the packed midnight premiere of a Batman film, where James Holmes launched his attack.

During opening statements, the attorneys for the families and survivors said the theater failed in several ways:

  • No security cameras
  • No armed security. Attorney Marc Bern said there was armed security on the two nights leading up to the shooting, but not the night of.
  • Cinemark failed to have perimeter patrols
  • Theater didn't have silent door alarms
  • Cinemark failed to follow own procedure on usher checks

Cinemark's attorney, Kevin Taylor, said, evidence will show Cinemark was attacked because it was close to Holmes' apartment, not specifically because of its security practices.

Taylor said crime was dropping in Aurora, leading up to the shooting and that Aurora was voted one of the top 10 safest cities.

Taylor admitted that the shooting in the theater may have been much worse, but the gun jammed on the 64th bullet.

Taylor said, "this was simply not the fault of Cinmark" and doctors who saw the gunman at the University of Colorado should have instituted him on a 72 hour hold after learning in his first visit that he was homicidal.

Note: One woman, Gloria Pester, is representing herself, separate from the 27 families that are suing Cinemark because her attorney was disbarred before the trial got underway.  Pester called three witnesses on day one, including two of her children.

The lone theater shooting gunman was sentenced last year to life in prison.


Sign up for Denver7 email alerts to stay informed about breaking news and daily headlines.

Or, keep up-to-date by following Denver7 on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.