Mom sues city over her son's death in parking garage

Published: Thursday, January 7, 2010 at 9:37 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 7, 2010 at 9:37 p.m.

The mother of a Tallahassee man killed in 2007 in the city of Gainesville's downtown parking garage filed suit against the city Thursday, claiming the city failed to provide adequate security.

The suit was filed by Patricia Kelleher, the mother of Andrew Arosemena, a 23-year-old who died Nov. 25, 2007 after the Florida/Florida State football game when he was shot in the head while sitting in his friend's car as they were trying to leave the garage at 105 S.W. Third St.

"The video shows the killer and his friends loitering in the garage for no apparent reason prior to the shooting," attorney Lawrence J. Marraffino said in a statement regarding the suit. "It is well known to the city and the police department (which maintains a substation in the garage but does not patrol it) that there was a long history of criminal activity going on for years prior to Andrew's murder."

City Attorney Marion Radson could not be reached for comment on the suit.

Marraffino also represents Matthew P. Johnson, who filed suit against the city alleging that security in the garage was inadequate to prevent an attack in August 2007 that left Johnson's face deformed.

Okpara Nelson of Gainesville was sentenced in June 2009 to life in prison after conviction for the murder of Arosemena.

"You never expect one of your children will die first," Kelleher said at the sentencing. "The question in my heart is why did you do it? Why did you kill my baby? Look at you."

Arosemena had come for his first visit to Gainesville to watch the football game. Unable to secure game tickets, he and his brother Christopher Arosemena went to a downtown bar with two other friends.

When the bars closed, the four friends found themselves in a line of cars attempting to exit the city-owned downtown parking garage.

Three witnesses in Arosemena's car testified that Arosemena yelled out the window for the car in front of them to move. Then Nelson walked back to the car in which Arosemena was seated and shot Arosemena in the head from point-blank range. He died at Shands at the University of Florida.

The suit, filed in circuit court, alleges negligence and contends the city has a duty to provide reasonable security measures or personnel to control or guard against criminal activity.

Damages of more than $15,000 are being sought.

Marraffino said that at least 671 incidents of criminal activity occurred in the garage in the three years prior to Arosemena's death.

The Sun reported last year that 44 crimes were reported in the garage in 2008 and 90 in 2007.

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