Michael Tates described the environment inside ChrisT as “chaos.”
He was working with Keith Luckey as a security guard at the club on East Lombard Street near South Haven Street in Highlandtown on Nov. 7, 2022, when the bar manager called them to deal with a situation. Two women, he said, were going at each other during an argument.
Tates said he grabbed the younger woman by the arms and pushed her backward. That’s when he felt her stepfather, Kevin Torres, put an arm around his neck and scream, “Don’t put your hands on my girl!”
Surveillance video shows the security guards having a heated conversation with Torres as people held him back.
“He’s really pissed off and irate,” Tates testified on Thursday in Baltimore Circuit Court for the defense. “He just went ballistic.”
Outside the bar, Torres, Tates said, stated, “I’ll kill all of you.” He told Luckey to pepper-spray Torres if he came any closer, Tates testified. That’s what ended up happening.
Next, Torres picked up a brick and threw it at the security guards. Then he did it again.
“And Keith Luckey shot him?” asked Lawrence Rosenberg, Luckey’s attorney.
“Yes, sir,” Tates replied.
Jurors are set on Friday to hear closing arguments and soon decide whether Luckey, 40, of Baltimore County, acted in self-defense or carried out the deadly shooting without legal justification. He’s charged with second-degree murder, use of a handgun during the commission of a crime of violence, reckless endangerment and related offenses.
Torres served as president of the Villanueva soccer team and was celebrating a championship win. He was 35. His death sparked protests involving more than 100 people and calls for justice in the community.
Earlier in the day, Assistant State’s Attorney Matt Pillion called Torres’ wife, Sor Torres, as a witness. She recalled how the night out began with festivities that included dancing, drinking and smoking a hookah, but then deteriorated.
Baltimore Police Detective Joseph Brown, the lead investigator, testified that he interviewed Luckey at the homicide unit.
Prosecutors played the interrogation for jurors.
“He had a brick,” Luckey told investigators. “And based on my knowledge, training and experience, I know it to be a weapon that can cause grievous bodily harm or death, so at that point, I took out my weapon, fired, and he was hit.”
Luckey described the encounter as a rapidly evolving situation and said that he served as a police officer for eight years with the U.S. Department of Defense. Police allowed him to leave and did not obtain an arrest warrant until more than three weeks later.
Luckey did not testify at trial.
In 2019, Luckey was a senior airman in the Maryland Air National Guard 175th Security Forces Squadron and off-duty when he shot and killed a man in an exchange of gunfire outside the Golden Dragon Bar & Grill in Windsor Mill. The Baltimore County State’s Attorney’s Office cleared Luckey of any wrongdoing.
On cross-examination, Tates said he withdrew his weapon but did not fire any shots.
Everything, he said, happened so fast. Security guards were trying to defuse the situation, Tates said.
Said Tates: “Mr. Torres should’ve just left on his own.”