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York prison administrator accused of pointing gun involved in 2003 bar death

Liz Evans Scolforo
York Dispatch

York County Prison's facilities manager — accused of pointing a loaded handgun at neighbors while drunk — was one of six bar bouncers involved in the 2003 death of a patron.

John Jacob McCoy Jr. remains free on $25,000 unsecured bail, charged with four counts each of simple assault and reckless endangerment for his alleged encounter with neighbors. Unsecured bail means he didn't have to put up cash to remain free but could forfeit that amount if he misses court proceedings. 

The estate of David A. Potter Jr. sued McCoy, five other bouncers, Fat Daddy's and bar owners Matthew and Sean Landis.

The wrongful-death lawsuit was settled out of court in 2011 for $795,000.

Potter, 27, died June 1, 2003, outside Fat Daddy's at the Woods, 2510 E. Market St. in Springettsbury Township, after bouncers removed him from the nightclub, threw him to the ground and sat on him.

The York County Coroner's Office determined Potter died because he couldn't breathe while being held down. His cause of death was deemed "sudden death during restraint" combined with ethanol ingestion, and the manner of death was ruled to be accidental.

John Jacob McCoy Jr.

At the time, the York County District Attorney's Office determined no charges were warranted against Fat Daddy's, its owners or the bouncers.

The civil lawsuit, filed in York County Common Pleas Court by the victim's brother, claimed Potter's death was a direct result of negligence and carelessness by Fat Daddy's managers and staff.

It claimed the bouncers wrestled Potter down the stairs, "at times in a choke hold, and then threw him face down on the ground, at the direction of the owners of the nightclub. They then laid on top of him restricting his ability to breath, causing his death."

The lawsuit stated Potter remained pinned to the ground "for many minutes" and that when bouncers released him, he'd stopped breathing.

"Initially, no first aid was given, and it was not until the police and paramedic units arrived that any first aid was administered," according to the lawsuit.

Potter's brother, Montez Young, of York, filed the lawsuit in May 2004 on behalf of Potter's two children. Also listed as a plaintiff is the mother of Potter's children, Melanie Sharp.

On Friday, McCoy declined comment through his attorney, Chris Ferro.

The background: Potter, who lived on South Pershing Avenue, was removed from Fat Daddy's by bouncers including McCoy after a woman inside the nightclub grabbed Sharp's hair and Potter stepped in to separate the women, according to court documents.

But in court filings, Fat Daddy's claimed Potter refused to leave the nightclub and fought, kicked and threatened bouncers, according to court documents.

The $795,000 settlement agreement covered claims against the bouncers, the nightclub and its owners.

Fat Daddy's Nightclub in Springettsbury Township, Friday, Aug. 14, 2020. Dawn J. Sagert photo

Potter's two sons, who are now adults, were to split the remaining money after attorney's fees, legal costs and other costs related to Potter's death were satisfied.

Current case: Lower Windsor Township Police allege McCoy waved around and pointed a loaded .44 Magnum at neighbors in June while he was drunk.

Ferro, his defense attorney, has said McCoy maintains his innocence.

"This situation did not occur in a vacuum," Ferro has said of the neighbor encounter. "We believe when proper context is established my client's actions were lawful and reasonable."

McCoy, 56, of Craley Road in Lower Windsor Township, remains on unpaid administrative leave pending the resolution of his criminal case, according to York County spokesperson Mark Walters.

More:York prison administrator facing trial, allegedly pointed loaded gun at neighbors

Police said it happened about 9:50 p.m. June 22 in a driveway shared by McCoy and his neighbors.

Neighbor Diana Smith told officers that she and three other people were standing on a portion of a shared driveway that they have a legal right to use, charging documents state.

She told officers that McCoy and another neighbor, Ronald Miller, approached them, with McCoy waving a revolver, yelling at them and telling them to get off his property, documents state.

Fat Daddy's Nightclub in Springettsbury Township, Friday, Aug. 14, 2020. Dawn J. Sagert photo

No drug deal: He accused them of conducting a drug deal, but officers examined the bag that McCoy allegedly claimed had drugs in it and found it contained a DVD movie, according to charging documents.

Smith's daughter, Sasha Taylor, confirmed her mother's allegations at McCoy's Aug. 6 preliminary hearing. On cross-examination, Taylor said that prior to that encounter, McCoy had always been decent to them.

"As far as I knew, he was a great person," she said. "He helped shovel my grandparents' driveway."

Lower Windsor Township Police Officer Ben Wind testified it was obvious McCoy was feeling the effects of alcohol.

"He said he had consumed 12 beers," Wind said. "He appeared to be slurring his speech, always had to be holding on to something. It appeared his balance was off. ... I had a hard time understanding that a property line was the issue here."

McCoy told police he didn't point his gun at anyone and that a neighbor told him his wife was involved in some sort of confrontation in the driveway. He later learned she was still at work.

— Reach senior crime reporter Liz Evans Scolforo at levans@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.

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