Settlement reached with Groton bar over fatal shooting
Groton _ The mother of Joey Gingerella, the 24-year-old man shot and killed while trying to break up a fight outside Ryan’s Pub in 2016, has secured a $300,000 settlement from the bar.
The settlement was the result of a stipulated judgment signed on Feb. 21 that allows Ryan’s Pub, and its owner Raymond Ryan III, to use its available insurance policy limit to pay the settlement to Gingerella’s mother, Tammy de la Cruz, the administrator of Gingerella’s estate.
The wrongful death suit, filed in New London Superior Court in 2018, alleged the bar carried some of the responsibility in Gingerella’s death because it did not provide enough security or adequately train its employees how to manage unruly patrons.
“It was never about the money,” Tammy de la Cruz said of the lawsuit. “Basically, I just wanted there to be some accountability...acknowledge they had negligence in Joey’s death.”
On the evening of Dec. 11, 2016, Gingerella, who was known to friends as “Jo Jo Nice,” had intervened in a fight outside the bar between a patron, Dante Hughes, and Hughes’ girlfriend, Latoya S. Knight. The pair had argued and Knight left with Hughes following her out. Fearing Knight may be in trouble, a female bartender who was the sole employee at the Fort Hill Road establishment that night asked Gingerella and others to check on Knight in the parking lot.
Outside, Hughes was found to be punching Knight. Gingerella and other patrons stepped in to break up the fight. Hughes shot Gingerella moments later.
Hughes is serving a 45-year prison sentence having been convicted of first-degree manslaughter with a firearm and criminal possession of a firearm.
The suit alleged the bar had placed Gingerella in harm’s way rather than providing “adequate protection or otherwise control the activities of its patrons, especially after the earlier outbreak of violence occurring between Hughes and Knight.”
“I just feel very strongly my son would not be dead if he had not been not been asked to go outside, if the cops had been called instead of asking a patron to go out,” Tammy de la Cruz said.
The settlement was signed as a trial was nearing. Tammy de la Cruz said that while she was prepared to go to trial, she was not sure if she wanted to go through the mental anguish of reliving the events of the day her son died.
“The reality is I had to weigh what a trial would emotionally do to me,” she said.
Prior to his death, Gingerella had struggled with addiction to opioid pain pills and was the inspiration that led to de La Cruz and her husband, former state representative and Groton City Councilor Joe de la Cruz, to start Community Speaks Out, a nonprofit organization that helps people with addiction.
Ryan and his attorney, Paul D. Meade, did not immediately return a call seeking comment.