The family of a victim of this summer’s shooting at Muzik is suing the nightclub, claiming it failed to provide an adequate number of security and police personnel to prevent the kind of violence that killed their son.
In a lawsuit to be filed in court Wednesday, the parents and family of Duvel Hibbert — one of two victims of the August 2015 double slaying at the OVO Fest after-party — allege that the security fence was inadequate to prevent individuals or guns from entering, that the nightclub failed to train, or adequately train, employees to respond to emergencies, and hired staff who were “incompetent and incapable of exercising reasonable care and judgment.”
“They knew or ought to have known that similar incidents had occurred in the past involving violence with guns and/or other weapons and they failed to address same,” Hibbert’s family alleges in the claim. The plaintiffs are seeking $2.5 million in damages.None of the allegations has been proven in court.
A representative from Muzik could not be reached for comment Tuesday night, but the club recently told the Star about improvements it has made to security, including spending a quarter-million dollars on security upgrades.
Hibbert, 23, was gunned down inside Muzik in the early hours of Aug. 4, after attending the official after-party of Toronto rapper Drake’s music festival.
Ariela Navarro-Fenoy, 26, was shot dead moments later outside the club, just south of the Dufferin Gate. It was later revealed that, moments before her death, Navarro-Fenoy had attempted to hail a cab to escape the gunfire, but was turned away because the fare was not high enough, according to one of Navarro-Fenoy’s friends.
According to police, Navarro-Fenoy was an innocent bystander and Hibbert an intended target. Three others were also injured.
No arrests have been made. In the days after the high-profile incident, police publicly appealed for anyone with information or evidence to come forward. They also released descriptions of two men wanted in connection to the shooting.
Shortly after the shooting, a senior police source said security at the event was inadequate given the number of partygoers. It was estimated the event drew 4,000 people.
Club spokesperson Jeff Chatterton said in a statement in the days after the shooting that the club was fully co-operating with the police investigation. Owner Zlatko Starkovski said paid-duty police officers were outside the club and 73 security guards were inside that night, including 15 specially trained guards who conducted body searches, some using metal-detecting wands.
The Hibbert family’s statement of claim will also be filed against two unknown shooters, John Doe 1 and 2, alleged to have brought in a gun and shot Hibbert.
The family is looking for accountability and answers, “and assurances that it is not business as usual,” said Michael Smitiuch, the family’s lawyer.
“The family is hoping that Duvel’s death is the last at Muzik nightclub,” he added. “It’s a tragedy that can’t be erased by a fresh coat of paint.”
Any improvements the club has made since the shooting come too late for the Hibbert family, Smitiuch said.
Last week, Starkovski told the Star he has spent more than $250,000 on security upgrades since the shooting, and a further $500,000 on technology, including new cameras equipped with facial recognition.
The nightclub is set to host one of the biggest parties of the upcoming NBA All-Star Game weekend, the Maxim party on Feb. 12.
“What we’ve done is taken the incident and learned from it,” Starkovski said, promising that something like the shooting that killed Navarro-Fenoy and Hibbert “will never happen again.”
In the aftermath, some city councillors called for Muzik’s liquor licence to be pulled. Members of the Exhibition Place board of governors said the OVO Fest after-party should no longer be held at Muzik.
At the time of his death, Hibbert was facing numerous criminal charges and was due to appear at Old City Hall court two days after the shooting, on charges of possession of cocaine for the purpose of trafficking and breaching bail.
He was out on bail on pending drug-related charges in Brampton, had already served a three-year sentence for gun-related offences, and breached his parole in 2013.
In an interview with the Star shortly after the shooting, Hibbert’s parents would not comment when asked whether their son might have been a target for violence. They said Hibbert was hoping to move to Windsor, where his girlfriend lives, to make a fresh start, and encouraged the public not to fixate on the negative side of their son.