BILLINGS — The family of a young man recently shot and killed in the parking lot of America's Wild West has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the popular bar, saying the bar acted negligently in serving alcohol to the 18-year-old alleged shooter and not providing adequate security to its parking lot.
Billings police say Beau Harlan Beaumont, 21, was shot and killed in the early morning hours of Feb. 12. Xavier Buffalo, 18, was arrested a short time later and charged with deliberate homicide. He is currently being held at the Yellowstone County Detention Center on a $250,000 bond.
Attorneys with the AVA Law Group working with the Beaumont family pointed to above-average calls for service to the bar, reported by Q2, as evidence that bar owners knew about the increased rates of violent crime and did not act to prevent it.
"Beau's death is a tragedy which never should have happened," says Teague Westrope, an attorney with AVA Law Group. "Xavier Buffalo pulled the trigger, but he is not the only one who bears responsibility for Beau's death."
The day following Beaumont's death, his friends protestedoutside of America's Wild West, demanding action from the bar including changing service from 18+ to 21+ and increasing security in the parking lot.
“We want to try to shut it down," said Alicia Doney, who was with Beaumont at the bar on the night of his death. "We want them to change their policy to 21 and up. This is the only bar in Billings that allows 18 and up. Obviously, younger kids are going to come here."
Billings police tell MTN the bar attracts an above-average number of calls compared to other similar establishments and they recently implemented a new plan increasing patrols to the area and requiring officers to patrol the bar in larger teams on busy nights.
"Because you have these calls for service coming in so frequently and a lot of times with such a violent nature, it requires more than one officer to show up. And with these large crowds, you wouldn't go in by yourself, you wouldn't even go in with two, you need to go with three or four for safety measures," says Lt. Matt Lennick with Billings Police Department.
Lennick says this pulls resources from other parts of the city.
"Really the effect is that other people have to wait," he said.
MTN reached out to America's Wild West owners on Monday while reporting on the need for increased patrols. Owners say they won't comment on specific cases but added that they are working with police to help patrol the bar. Police say that includes making the park a no-loitering zone, which allows officers to come onto the property when people are hanging out in parking lots.
Teague says this shows a bigger problem with the bar.
"Recent media reporting has made clear that the owners of America's Wild West have known for quite some time that the bar and dance club is a magnet for violence, yet they seemingly have made little to no effort to have security patrol the parking lot," Teague said.
"And according to reporting by KTVQ2, it now sounds like they want taxpayers to bail them out by having the Billings Police Department patrol the parking lot more regularly. The public should be outraged by this news. Taxpayers should not be responsible for providing security to private companies. Period."
You can view a copy of the complaint here.
Beaumont's death was the second homicide at the bar in less than a year. Domonic Shawn Dale Morgan, 29, was shot and killed there on April 23, 2022, by a 19-year-old man.
As of Monday, Billings police say they had responded to a staggering 213 incidents at the bar since the beginning of 2022, including an alleged assault on February 2022 in which a bar employee was arrested and charged with felony assault with a weapon.