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Why slain local lawman’s family filed wrongful death lawsuit

Published: Jul. 13, 2020 at 4:46 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - It's been nearly eight months since Investigator Cecil Ridley was killed while on duty.

Alvin Hester has been arrested and charged with murder, but the family doesn’t think he’s the only one who should be held accountable.

"This is a situation that possibly should not have occurred if the landlord had done the right thing," Sharon Ridley's attorney, Jack Long, said.

Ridley’s family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against two defendants -- one of them being Circle K, the store owners, and landlords of the property.

One of the main focuses of the lawsuit is lighting. A dozen times in the suit, the family's attorneys say the lights weren't properly maintained, and if they were, Ridley's death could have been prevented.

“We all know that lighting in a commercial establishment, or even in a private home, discourages criminal activity,” Long said.

The other defendant is Juno and Jaehee Incorporated, the store's operators. Long says there was some sort of working relationship between Hester and the managers of the store.

The suit says the defendants knew Hester by the nickname "Bam Bam" because he was known to carry pistols. It also says the store managers hired Hester and his friends to work part-time, even though they knew he was involved in gang activity outside their store.

"People can't just bury their heads in the sand," Long said. "They have a duty to try to do what you can to decrease activity."

Long says if the managers did know about gang activity, that classifies the property as a public nuisance.

"If someone is injured as a result of you're not doing anything, you can be held liable for damages in the amount of three times the actual damages," Long said.

The lawsuit was filed back on July 2. Both defendants in the suit now have 30 days to respond. Circle K sold the store back in April. They declined to comment for this story. Ridley left behind a wife and six children.

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