The family of a woman who was killed in a collision with an off-duty Fort Worth police officer filed a lawsuit Thursday against The Pour House, the popular bar where they claim the officer got drunk.
Sonia Baker was killed Dec. 11 when her car was struck by an unmarked police car driven by off-duty police officer Jesus Cisneros. The lawsuit names The Pour House, a trendy nightspot on West 7th Street, as the place where Cisneros became intoxicated.
"As Cisneros continued to drink and party at The Pour House, he became increasingly intoxicated, a fact which was blatantly disregarded by the servers," the lawsuit alleges.
The suit was announced at an emotional news conference at the office of the family's attorney.
"These establishments have to be responsible for what they do," said Baker's mother, Stella Lopez.
She recalled how the family struggled to explain the death to Baker's 5-year-old son.
"He had said that his mother had run away," Lopez said. "We had to explain to him that she loved him and there is no way she would run away from them. And we had to tell him the mommy's with Jesus now."
The family's attorney, Jeff Rasansky of Dallas, said the Pour House served Cisneros four beers and four shots.
Rasansky said the city of Fort Worth could be added as a defendant later.
He said his investigation found Cisneros was involved in an altercation with an off-duty police officer who was working security at the Pour House. The officer told Cisneros to leave despite his intoxicated condition, Rasansky said.
The attorney also faulted the police department for not firing Cisneros after another alcohol-related incident about two years earlier. Instead, he was suspended for 20 days.
Cisneros faces criminal charges of intoxication manslaughter. He resigned less than two weeks after the accident.
His blood alcohol level was .17 -- more than two times the legal limit, police said.
Cisneros was driving at least 70 mph in the 3800 block of Columbus Trail when his Toyota Highlander slammed into Baker's car, police said. The posted speed limit there is 35 mph.
Cisneros was at a birthday party at The Pour House which was attended by a number of other officers, police have said. The results of an internal investigation have not been announced.
Police have said he started drinking while on-duty earlier at other bars that night as part of an unauthorized undercover bar detail. Cisneros was a narcotics detective and was assigned the city-owned SUV for his undercover work. He was not authorized to take it home, police said.
Police Chief Jeffrey Halstead has apologized to the Baker family and said he was embarrassed by what happened.
"This despicable act has not only stunned our community, it has absolutely shocked the conscience of our police department to the very core," he said in December.
Eric Tschetter, the owner of the Pour House, declined to comment on the lawsuit and referred questions to his attorney.
The attorney, Greg Winslett of Dallas, did not immediately return a phone call.