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Wrongful Death Suit Filed After Security Guard Murders Man For Not Wearing Face Mask

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Last July, Jerry Lewis, a 50-year-old man from Gardena, California, entered Green Farm Market on Rosecrans Avenue without wearing a face mask. Shortly thereafter an argument between Lewis and the store’s security guard, Umeir Corniche Hawkins, erupted. Hawkins reportedly demanded that Lewis put on a face mask in accordance with the store’s COVID-19 policy, or leave the store immediately. After a few minutes of intense arguing, a physical altercation broke out ending with Hawkins shooting Lewis outside in the store’s parking lot.

Lewis was pronounced dead at the scene, approximately 15 miles south of Los Angeles.

According to a Los Angeles personal injury law firm, Lewis’s four children have filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Hawkins and his wife, Sabrina Carter. Carter is accused of brandishing a handgun in the direction of Lewis and other customers at the scene before the murder took place. Hawkins and Carter were arrested in July. Hawkins has been charged with murder, while both he and Carter have been charged with as possession of a handgun by a convicted felon.

According to CBS2 Los Angeles, Lewis was also known by his rapper alias “Madd Head.” He gained popularity in the 1990s and for one of his songs, “Pimp’n Ain’t Ez,” which was featured on the “Beavis And Butthead – Do America” soundtrack.

CBS2 also reported in July that Lewis had tried to enter the market without a mask and started arguing with Hawkins. Lewis left the store, then returned and began physically fighting with Hawkins.

Carter, who had been waiting in the parking lot for Lewis to finish work, armed herself with a handgun and intervened in the fight by pointing it at Lewis and other customers, according to Gardena police. As Lewis walked away from the store toward his vehicle, police say Hawkins took out a second firearm and shot Lewis as he was walking away.

According to the District Attorney’s Office, both Hawkins and Carter were convicted in 2013 for assault by means of force likely to produce great bodily injury.

As of the July 8 report from CBS2, Hawkins was being held on $1 million bail, facing a possible maximum sentence of 50 years to life in state prison. Bail was set at $35,000 for Carter, who reportedly faces three years in prison if convicted as charged.

“Jerry Lewis’s death was senseless, and never had to happen at all,” said Michael Parker, managing attorney at M.R. Parker, the firm representing Lewis’s children. “The fight over wearing a mask should have ended, but instead it escalated for no reason into the taking of a human life. Now, the Lewis family has been left without a father.”

In addition to bringing a wrongful death claim against Hawkins and Carter, M.R. Parker issued a statement confirming the lawsuit also targets Green Farm Market, accusing the store of negligent hiring and supervision in its employment of Hawkins.

“Green Farm Market failed the basic test of keeping its customers safe from its own employees,” said Kenneth Shy, M.R. Parker’s lead trial attorney. “Our firm is committed to holding them accountable to the fullest extent of the law and getting justice for the Lewis children.”