Steubenville Shooting Suspect Had Civil Lawsuit Pending Before Judge Bruzzese

Steubenville City Manager Jim Mavromatis speaks about the shooting.

STEUBENVILLE — Nathaniel Richmond, 51, of Steubenville — the man authorities said died in a shootout after he opened fire Monday morning on Jefferson County Common Pleas Judge Joseph Bruzzese Jr. — had a civil case pending before the judge.

Richmond filed a wrongful death lawsuit in April on behalf of his mother, Mae Etta Richmond, who was killed in a fire on Wellesley Avenue on April 27, 2015. The fire also took the life of Te’On Dillard, 2.

According to the lawsuit, Mae Etta Richmond had a lease for the house with the Jefferson Metropolitan Housing Authority. At the time of the fire, five people were inside the house, including Richmond’s grandson, Tony Dillard, and his three children. Dillard and his two surviving children also are plaintiffs.

According to a police report at the time, an officer was called to the house. The officer saw a man on the porch, looking through the front door. The officer said the man appeared to be ready to pass out from the heat and flames. The officer then pulled the man off the porch.

That officer and another patrolman pleaded with the two children and a woman on the porch roof to jump about 15 feet to safety. One officer caught one of the children and the other broke the fall of the other child. The porch roof collapsed a couple of minutes later and the woman on the roof fell into the fire.

The lawsuit claims the housing authority and its employees knew from inspections of the house that it had several defects, including exposed electrical wiring and inoperable smoke detectors.

“Defendants were informed by the inspection company that these conditions were ‘life threatening.’ In fact, the house had long-standing electrical problems of which the defendants knew. Defendants chose not to fix or otherwise remedy these physical defects. In fact, defendants knew from the inspection company reports that there were over 100 ‘life threatening’ conditions at JMHA’s public housing unit,” the lawsuit states.

Attorneys for the housing authority had filed a motion on Friday to dismiss the punitive damages in the case and another claim that the housing authority had destroyed the house in order to disrupt the plaintiff’s case.

A hearing on the motion was scheduled to be heard next Monday morning before Bruzzese.

According to Jefferson County court records, Richmond was indicted by the county grand jury in November 2002 on charges of felonious assault and attempted murder, with specifications of having a firearm and it being a drive-by shooting, and having a gun as a convicted felon.

He pleaded guilty one month later to the felonious assault charge and was sentenced to five years in prison.

Richmond was an outspoken proponent of his son, Ma’Lik, who was convicted in the Steubenville rape case. Tom Lipps, a retired Hamilton County Juvenile Court judge, presided over that case.

Richmond, 18, was convicted in March 2013 along with co-defendant Trent Mays of raping a female juvenile from Weirton in August 2012 following alcohol-fueled parties.

Ma’Lik Richmond had attempted to play football for Youngstown State University, but university officials on Aug. 9 said he would not be permitted to compete in any games.

The university said Ma’Lik Richmond will remain in the football program as a practice player, forfeiting a year of eligibility.

A YSU student had started a petition to have him removed from the team, which had garnered thousands of signatures.

Nathaniel Richmond, meanwhile, spoke at a May 9 Steubenville City Council meeting. During the meeting, Councilman Willie Paul set a health and safety committee meeting to review the monthly police activities report and to discuss feral cats in the city.

That announcement brought a response from Richmond, who said council should be discussing “the influx of drugs into the city, drugs and gangbangers in our town.”

“I was shot at a few weeks ago, and the police say they don’t have enough evidence to prosecute the case. That is what you should be talking about at the safety committee meeting,” Richmond told Paul.


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