New details emerge in lawsuit filed by victim shot at 2012 house party hosted by 49ers All-Pro Linebacker Aldon Smith. Tony Kovaleski reports.
A gunshot victim wounded at a house party hosted by 49ers linebacker Aldon Smith last summer has sued the All-Pro defensive star, alleging he and a former 49er fired off guns illegally at the conclusion of the party at Smith’s 8,000-square-foot home in the eastern San Jose foothills.
Smith was sued Tuesday in Santa Clara County Court by a guest at that party, Ronndale Esporlas.
In the seven-page civil lawsuit, Esporlas alleges that he suffered “serious, catastrophic and permanent injuries” when he was caught in a “crossfire” of bullets in the early morning hours of June 30, 2012. Delanie Walker, a former Niner who now plays for the Tennessee Titans, was also named in the suit as a co-defendant.
Esporlas doesn’t know who exactly shot him, but he is claiming negligence and “premises liability,” pointing fingers at the two football players because they were, according to the lawsuit, drunk and shooting off guns. Esporlas’ injuries aren’t spelled out in the lawsuit.
Esporlas is being represented by attorney David Kleczek, who first filed the suit in San Francisco County before refiling in Santa Clara County on Tuesday.
When contacted by the NBC Bay Area Investigative Unit, Smith’s attorney, Matt Conant, said his client will have no comment regarding the pending litigation. Attempts to reach the Titans for comment were unsuccessful.
The Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Department continues to investigate. Smith and Walker have not been arrested or charged criminally in the case.
Until now, not much has been known about this June 2012 party at the home in unincorporated San Jose on Higuera Highland Lane, mostly because the guests and the football players haven’t said much.
All that’s been reported is that sheriff’s deputies received a 911 call at 2:14 a.m. on June 30, 2012, after “multiple” gunshots were fired at Smith’s home. A sheriff’s spokesman at the time described the scene as "pretty chaotic” with more than 100 guests in attendance.
A “couple” of gunshot victims – who were never publicly named – were taken to the hospital as well as one one stabbing victim. That victim turned out to be Smith himself.
Trent Baalke, the 49ers general manager, issued a statement after the party, saying the team was “aware that Aldon Smith incurred minor injuries during an incident last night.”
For the first time, however, Esplorlas’ lawsuit, revealed first by NBC Bay Area’s Investigative Unit, details more of what allegedly occurred at that party. Some of those details include the fact that Smith – who is reportedly the 10th highest paid 49ers player, with a base salary of more than $1.6 million a year – charged a $10 cover to get into the party, and provided a fully stocked bar and charged guests $5 a drink.
According to the lawsuit, there was dancing and a lot of drinking, where Smith and Walker got drunk. In an effort to end the party, Smith and Walker hopped onto the balcony and fired of “illegally possessed” weapons into the air, the suit claims.
The lawsuit also says, “Walker then made his way to the driveway. Once on the driveway Delanie Walker began firing a handgun in the air and towards others attending the party.” The legal filing says a group of people near the street began firing gunshots back toward the house and says Esporlas was hit by a bullet in the crossfire.
The NBC Bay Area Investigative Unit has also obtained a copy of the San Jose Fire Department incident report from the emergency response that night. The report provides additional details previously unreported. It says one victim was shot in the leg and the other victim in the thigh. The report cites callers who included the two words: “Gang Related.” It also noted that emergency crews had trouble getting to the home because the roads were blocked.
Smith became the 49ers full-time starting outside linebacker in 2012. He finished the season with 19.5 sacks and was voted the team’s Most Valuable Player.