Would-Be Robber Sues 2 Who Foiled Plan

ROCHESTER, N.Y., June 10, 2006
(CBS/AP) A man who was beaten by employees of an auto parts store he was trying to rob is now suing the store and those employees.

Police say Dana Buckman entered the AutoZone in Rochester, New York, last July, brandished a semi-automatic pistol and demanded cash.

Eli Crespo and Jerry Vega – who were working that day – didn't cooperate. The pair beat the would-be robber with a pipe and held him at bay with his own gun.

Buckman escaped when the employees retreated into the store to call 911, but he was arrested a week later. Buckman pleaded guilty to first-degree robbery and was sentenced to 18 years in prison as a repeat violent felon.

But now, Buckman is suing the auto parts store and the two men who beat him, claiming they committed assault and battery and intentionally inflicted emotional distress.

"It seems to me a bit audacious," Patrick Naylon, the attorney for AutoZone, Crespo and Vega told CBSNews.com's Lloyd de Vries. "The plaintiff first tried to rob AutoZone with a gun, and now he's trying to rob it with a civil lawsuit."

But lawyer Phillip R. Hurwitz, who represented Buckman in the criminal case and also filed the civil suit in April in state Supreme Court, told the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle that Crespo and Vega crossed the line by pursuing Buckman and attacking him.

"The danger was past," Hurwitz told the paper. "These two employees took it upon themselves to go after Mr. Buckman after he left the store."

The lawyer for Crespo and Vega – who no longer work for AutoZone – told CBSNews.com his clients shouldn't be too worried about the outcome. "If they were brave enough to handle an armed robbery, a civil lawsuit certainly shouldn't scare them, especially one like this."

Monroe County District Attorney Michael C. Green would not comment on the suit's chances in court, but he told the Democrat & Chronicle, "There doesn't seem to be any question that they were justified."