Ruben Riguero's friends and family have never gotten the justice they felt they deserve. Riguero, a 29-year-old Venezuelan father, bodybuilder, fitness instructor and stripper at LaBare, was gunned down in September 2012 after a fight at The Fare Room, Cabaret Royale's after-hours club. His killer, identified by police as Branagan Hopkins, confessed to pulling the trigger but was cleared of murder charges by a Dallas County grand jury. According to a police spokesman, the evidence pointed to self-defense.
Family and friends have continued to press their case, taking it first to the court of public opinion. A blog set up by a friend who says he was with Riguero, declares a "great injustice," detailing the shooting in detail and quoting the D.A.'s office response as "unfortunately when a drug dealer kills a stripper no one cares," which doesn't sound like something anyone from the D.A.'s office actually said but at least captures some of the writer's anger.
Now, their PR effort having yielded no measurable result, they are taking their case back to actual court. On Monday, his family filed a lawsuit in Dallas County district court, not against Riguero's alleged killer but against Millennium Restaurants Group, the company that runs Cabaret Royale and The Fare Room.
According to the suit, filed jointly by Riguero's mother, who lives in Venezuela, and the mother of Riguero's
two children young son, who lives in Kansas, the strip club failed in its responsibility to keep its patrons safe.
The suit opens with a brief summary of the events of September 30, 2012. In the early morning hours, Riguero and his friends were at The Fare Room. They began fighting with at least two other customers, one of whom was Hopkins. Club employees intervened and repeatedly punched and kicked Hopkins before kicking him out.
But, the suit says, "Hopkins did not leave. Instead, he waited inside his car, which was parked in the overflow lot."
When Riguero and his group were asked to leave a short time later, the fight picked back up in the parking lot, at which point Hopkins pulled out a gun and shot Riguero.
So, what part of the incident makes The Fare Room or Cabaret Royale responsible? Riguero's family makes their case thusly:
Defendants did not have adequate security for the premises. Further, Defendants negligently failed to take the necessary and appropriate measures to address the altercation between Mr. Hopkins and Mr. Riguero's group. Defendants further provoked the situation by assaulting Mr. Riguero [Editor's note: We think they mean Hopkins].
Thus, the suit says, the club was directly responsible for leaving Riguero's
children son without a father and his mother without a son. They are asking the court for unspecified damages.
Also, here's a YouTube tribute to Riguero's life, which features pulsing dance music and plenty of gratuitous closeups of his shirtless bod.
Send your story tips to the author, Eric Nicholson.