A security guard was found not guilty on Friday of second-degree murder and related offenses for fatally shooting a soccer coach outside a bar in Baltimore, a killing that sparked protests and calls for justice in the community.
Keith Luckey’s attorney argued at trial this week in Baltimore Circuit Court that his client acted in self-defense when he killed Kevin Torres outside ChrisT bar, on East Lombard Street near South Haven Street in Highlandtown, on Nov. 7, 2022.
The jury deliberated for less than 2 1/2 hours — including lunch — and considered other charges such as voluntary manslaughter, use of a handgun during the commission of a crime of violence and reckless endangerment.
When the verdict was announced after 4 p.m., Luckey, 40, of Baltimore County, did not visibly react. Torres’ wife, Sor Torres, cried in the gallery and sobbed as she left the courtroom.
“Thank you all for your time, consideration and service,” Circuit Judge Myshala E. Middleton said to members of the jury.
Torres, 35, served as president of the Villanueva soccer team and was celebrating a championship win at the club. Supporters marched through the streets after his death and demanded “justicia para Kevin.”
Testimony revealed that Torres had a confrontation with security guards inside ChrisT after they physically removed his stepdaughter from the bar. Surveillance video captured the argument inside the club as well as the shooting.
Outside the bar, Luckey pepper-sprayed Torres after he approached security guards. Torres then threw a brick at them.
As Torres threw a second brick, Luckey fired six shots, falling to the ground. Luckey hit Torres a total of three times in the neck, chest and arm.
Under Maryland law, people have a duty to retreat before resorting to deadly force. That’s unless the path of escape is unsafe or unknown.
In his closing argument, Lawrence Rosenberg, Luckey’s attorney, said the state had not proven its case beyond a reasonable doubt.
Rosenberg questioned why prosecutors did not call a number of eyewitnesses. He also brought up the case of Baltimore Police Detective Brian Stevenson, who was fatally struck with a piece of concrete in 2010 while off-duty during an argument over a parking spot.
Luckey did not testify. Another security guard, Michael Tates, testified for the defense that Torres “went ballistic” and threatened to kill them.
Despite the suggestion otherwise, Rosenberg argued that his client retreated before using deadly force.
“Let justice be done,” Rosenberg said.
But Assistant State’s Attorney Matt Pillion asserted that the shooting was not partial or complete self-defense.
“The defendant killed, not out of fear, but out of anger,” Pillion said in his closing argument. “Anger, or being mad at somebody, is not a justification for murder.”
Luckey, he said, was not a police officer — and security guards do not have special privileges. Pillion contended that Luckey did not comply with his legal duty to retreat.
The door to the bar was open, he said, and the streets were clear. But Luckey turned, bent his knees and took two steps forward to assume a “shooting posture,” Pillion said.
Luckey told Baltimore Police that he knew based on his training, knowledge and experience that a brick could be a weapon that causes grievous bodily harm or death. Pillion described that language as mechanical, noting that Luckey never stated that he was afraid.
“It’s not manslaughter,” Pillion said. “It’s not self-defense.”
So Luckey, he said, was not defending any part of himself — except for maybe his pride.
In 2019, Luckey was a senior airman in the Maryland Air National Guard 175th Security Forces Squadron and was off duty when he shot and killed a man in an exchange of gunfire in the parking lot of the Golden Dragon Bar & Grill in Windsor Mill.
The Baltimore County State’s Attorney’s Office cleared Luckey of wrongdoing. He was not charged. Luckey left the courthouse Friday without speaking to reporters.