WALLINGFORD — The Oakdale Theatre is being sued by the family of a second man shot and killed outside the venue last year following a concert by rapper Meek Mill.
Travis Ward, 31, and Jacquan Graves, 20, both of New Haven, were killed in the shooting and two others, including 25-year-old Nathan Mitchell, of Hartford, were wounded.
Lawyers for Graves’ family filed a lawsuit in Waterbury Superior Court on Nov. 28 accusing the Oakdale and Live Nation, which owns the Oakdale, of failing to “hire and/or retain adequate security presence on the premises to protect patrons.” The lawsuit also names Meek Mill, legally named Robert Rihmeek Williams, as a defendant.
Lawyers representing the families of Ward and Mitchell filed a lawsuit against the Oakdale and Meek Mill in May. That case is in the discovery stage and a trial will be held sometime in 2019, according to Joel Faxon, an attorney representing the families of Ward and Mitchell.
The shooting occurred on Dec. 30 following Meek Mill’s concert at the Oakdale.
The suit on behalf of Graves’ family claims the Oakdale “allowed thugs to remain on the defendant's premises, after exhibiting disorderly, disruptive, argumentative, angry and/or agitated behavior towards patrons” and failed to “take reasonable measures to protect patrons and invitees.”
Graves was unarmed at the time of the shooting and “did not contribute to, incite or in any fashion participate in the melee,” according to the suit.
Live Nation did not return a request for comment. A representative for Meek Mill could not be reached for comment.
According to police, the Oakdale requested a police presence on the night of shooting three hours before the concert, but no officers were available on short notice on a holiday weekend. The theater did not normally hire police for events prior to the concert, police said previously.
Police response to the shooting was complex because officers were trying to enter the Oakdale Theatre grounds while concertgoers were trying to leave, Police Chief William Wright previously told the Record-Journal.
The lawsuit also named Meek Mill as a defendant and argued the musician’s “lyrics, songs and actions incite violence and encourage the use of deadly weapons.” The lawsuit included lyric samples from three of the rapper’s songs.
Mill was sentenced last month to two to four years in prison for violating probation on a roughly decade-old gun and drug case.
The lawsuit argued that given past incidents at Meek Mill concerts the Oakdale should have taken more security measures. Four people were shot at a Meek Mill concert in 2013 in Wilmington, Delaware, according to media reports. At a 2011 Meek Mill concert in Danbury, four people were arrested for disorderly conduct and two people were hospitalized for minor injuries.
The Oakdale “failed to discover, consider, appreciate or act on the fact that Meek Mill’s lyrics, songs and actions incite violence and encourage the use of deadly weapons.”
John Buckley, a New Haven attorney who filed the lawsuit on behalf of Graves’ mother and his estate, could not be reached for comment.
The lawsuit was first reported by Rolling Stone magazine.
Police have not identified any suspects, and no arrests have been made. The case remains under investigation. It was the first homicide in Wallingford since 2009, according to Police Chief William Wright.
“We continue to push along,” Wright said Monday. “It's a priority for us. We've got thousands of hours into this investigation and it continues.”
State and federal agencies are assisting in the investigation.