LOS ANGELES, USA – A jury on Thursday, May 19 found that the owner of a Colorado movie theater where a gunman killed 12 people during a Batman premiere in 2012 was not liable for the shooting.
Court spokesman Rob McCallum said on Twitter that the jury had ruled in favor of theater chain Cinemark in the first civil lawsuit stemming from the massacre.
The case focused on whether Cinemark should have done more to prevent the carnage at the multiplex in Aurora, Colorado.
James Holmes opened fire on July 20, 2012 during the midnight premiere of “The Dark Knight Rises.” He was wearing body armor and was armed with numerous weapons when police arrested him outside the theater.
During his trial, Holmes refused to say anything in his own defense, and the jury rejected the defense’s arguments that he was mentally ill.
In the civil case, attorney Marc Bern, representing the victims, argued that Cinemark should have hired more security and trained its personnel to better ensure the safety of patrons.
“We certainly feel that the security on the night of the shooting was very, very lax and if certain minimal things had been put in place … this entire event would have been prevented,” Bern told Agence France-Presse, adding that he planned to appeal.
He noted that while the theater beefed up security on weekends, it failed to do so on the night of the massacre, despite the fact that 1,000 people were expected to attend the Batman premiere.
Attorneys for Cinemark, however, argued during the trial that the company could not have foreseen the assault and that the blame for the killings rested with Holmes.
“The community has spoken,” Cinemark attorney Kevin Taylor said after the verdict was announced, the Denver Post reported. “Its conscience has been heard.”
A separate case filed against the theater is set to go on trial before a federal court in July.