Story about shooter smuggling gun into Champions via fake leg is BS, attorney says


Just months before Champions Bar closed for good earlier this year under pressure from the city, an innocent bystander named Mark Stephenson was shot to death at the Lake Street dive.

But Ed Matthews, an attorney representing Champions, told us there was little the bar could do to prevent the violence.

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Referring to the shooter, Ron Powell, who pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in connection with the incident earlier this month, Matthews said, "He went through a metal detector like everybody else does when he comes in, and he has a prosthetic leg and he had the gun hidden in his prosthetic leg, so there's nothing more we could've done to prevent this."


"He was wanded at the door, the detector went off, he showed people his prosthetic leg, and they let him in," Matthews continued. "What more are you gonna do? You can't deny someone access because they're disabled."

But that story is 100 percent false, according to Darcy Sherman, a Hennepin County public defender who represented Powell.

The gun-in-prosthetic-leg story was "entirely created by Champions," Sherman tells us. "I have seen [Powell's] feet. He absolutely has two legs."

Sherman says she's watched the surveillance video of Stephenson's shooting.

"There's a lot of stuff I can't get into, but the way it's being described is not at all in line with what happens in the video," she says. "I do not see a wand. I don't see anyone being wanded. I see people being pat-searched. Mr. Powell was pat-searched when he came in."

Asked whether Powell brought the gun used in Stephenson's slaying into the bar -- shots rang out after Powell was attacked by another patron -- Sherman says it remains unclear, at least in her judgment.

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Powell "goes into the bar, is attacked by another man, the two go onto the ground and at some point a gun is introduced into that fight, it's fired three times," she says. (The guy who attacked Powell didn't appear to be searched at all, according to Sherman.)

In any event, with Powell sentenced to 15 years in prison, Champions closed, and Stephenson dead, setting the record straight at this point probably doesn't mean much. But it is a reminder not to believe everything you hear, even (or maybe especially?) when it comes from the mouth of a lawyer.

"Obviously [the prosthetic leg] is an awesome hook for a story," Sherman says. "But I don't know if [Matthews] actually reviewed the video."

Last week, we called Matthews and Minneapolis officials seeking an update on Champions' explosive race discrimination lawsuit against the city, but didn't hear back on either front.

Send your story tips to the author, Aaron Rupar. Follow him on Twitter @atrupar.