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“You can’t take the law into your own hands:” Wrongful death lawsuit filed in death of Corey Stingley

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MILWAUKEE -- The attorneys at Milwaukee law firm Pitman, Kalkhoff, Sicula & Dentice, S.C. have filed a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of the Stingley family following the death of their 16-year-old son Corey.

Stingley was restrained by three men after allegedly attempting to steal liquor from VJ's Food Mart in West Allis in December 2012. Video surveillance showed him placing bottles of alcohol into his backpack. It showed the clerk confront Stingley as he attempted to purchase another item. Then Stingley appeared to reach for his debit card -- and take off running.

That's when three other customers stepped in -- leading to a struggle. They restrained Stingley until police arrived minutes later. By then, the 16-year-old was not breathing and had no pulse. Medical professionals were able to restore a pulse, but Stingley later died.

A John Doe investigation was held in Milwaukee County in this case. But no criminal charges were filed. The investigation found the evidence did not establish an intent to harm Corey Stingley.

Now, Stingley's family is filing a wrongful death lawsuit against the three customers and the store manager involved.

"We have this devastating tragic event that happens to this 16-year-old because we have four adults take the law into their own hands," said Howard Sicula, attorney.

Sicula is one of the attorneys representing the Stingleys. Because this is a civil case instead of a criminal one, he says they do not need to prove that the men intended the acts. They simply need to show they acted unreasonably.

Corey Stingley

Corey Stingley

"That it was unreasonable for them to restrain Corey, unreasonable to use physical force on Corey," said Sicula.

They are hoping the lawsuit sends a message that teaches this lesson...

"You have to let the police do their job. You can't take the law into your own hands because tragic things like this can happen," said Sicula.

FOX6 News attempted to contact the three customers and store manager named in this case -- hoping to speak with them on camera. We were not successful.


  • Fred

    I agree with the findings of initial report. The three men that restrained him had no intent to harm or kill him, they were holding him for the police to arrive. It is unfortunate that the thief died, but he wouldn’t have been injured or died that night if he was at home doing his homework or working at a job instead of trying to steal from an honest tax paying citizen. I know the Libs will say the three shouldn’t have interfered and just let the police do their jobs, but the fact is every honest citizen out here needs to step up and do their part to thwart crime. When you act like a race of sheeple the wolves move in for the kill.

    • grunt

      Corey truly should not have acted like a thug.
      Had he behaved like a civilized human being he might still be alive today.

    • Fred

      My kids aren’t thieves and they wouldn’t be in that situation. They were raised to respect everyone and expect nothing they haven’t worked for.

    • Holly

      Holding is one thing, but three grown men “restraining” him? No way. There was full intent there. Libs and sheeple? Political crank.

  • Joe

    Rip Corey.
    However he sadly made a mistake that ended his life. Family should not get a penny. See somebody stealing, take the law into your own hands if you want, it’s only right. You cannot think it’s OK to steal.

  • idiots

    I hope this gets thrown out. This will set a poor precedence of criminals having all the power while law abiding citizens will be powerless without police. To bad the police cannot be everywhere are once. We need to end this cycle of shenanigans. All able bodied law abiding citizen should arm themselves and protect themselves, their family, and their property. Criminals need to be taught that we are willing to fight for what’s ours.

  • You all must be perfect

    I see many posting here that he shouldn’t have stolen anything. First off he didn’t leave the premises with the items in question, therefore legally he didn’t “steal” anything. Second, I went to Highschool in West Allis and loved near that store. I know many people who have stolen liquor when they were under age. It’s not right but it doesn’t deserve the death penalty. So many self-righteous people, Fox News seems to bring them out. He was 16 and made a mistake. I bet many of your kids have done something just as bad or worse. You just never found out. What a way to be. The manager knew Cory, he knew his dad. Cory wasn’t going to get away with anything. All they had to do was show the police the security footage and hand over Te backpack je would have left if he had ran off and the police would have had everything they needed to give the kid a ticket. That’s right, all he would have gotten (at worst) was a ticket for shoplifting and possibly another ticket because it was alcohol and he was underage. But legally he may have been able to fight those tickets in court because he never left the premises with the items. Regardless those people acted recklessly, they had no right to restrain him and he had given the items back so he had every right to leave.

    • Opinion8d

      I don’t know where you shop, but whether he left the store or not, concealing items on your person in your belongings is not acceptable and is construed as shoplifting. What if he’s still in the parking lot on ‘store property’, has he ‘stole’ them yet in your eyes?? Your excuses are old. There is not a ‘death’ sentence for shoplifting. Corey is responsible for his own death. Had he not fought back, he would be alive. It’s not like they just jumped on him for no reason-everyone there was needed to restrain this ’16 yr old boy’. Your ignorance to crime and the impact of it to communities as well as to personal accountability is appalling and part of the bigger problem.

    • Reasonless

      To You All Must Be Perfect.
      You Must Be An Idiot.
      When you steal from others, you take a chance of getting caught or perhaps worse.

    • Honky

      Check your laws. Passing the last point of purchase is considered stealing. I did loss prevention. Unfortunate circumstances but he caused his own fate.

  • So disappointed

    I’m going to start by saying how disappointing it is to see everyone else’s grammar mistakes in their comments, you’re embarrassing yourselves. Secondly, regardless of if you think Corey was a thug, a criminal, or just a kid who made a mistake, the comments posted before mine are downright despicable and you all should be ashamed. I truly am scared of how uneducated our society is by trying to make this situation into a debate about guns, race, etc. I honestly don’t care if anyone comments on this story saying he was guilty or not, but you need to take a long look in the mirror and realize all the mistakes you’ve made before you can judge this 16 year old boy’s decision that led to his death as justified. A family is mourning the lose of their son. Be respectful, and show everyone else who reads your comments that you deserve their time because of your character and class. Rest in Peace Corey, those that knew you Miss you dearly.

  • holly

    I will stand watch someone beat the hell out of you.. do you really want that to happen.. sheep standing around watching the wolf tear in to a sheep and none of them come to the aid of the one being robbed beaten or harmed.. well guess that is the America everyone wanted changed too. so badly.

  • Amber Braaten

    The family wants justice, (which they deserve) not money. I cannot believe my eyes when reading some of these comments.

  • robert

    killed for beer-now that is truly f@#$%ed up!! we’ve all been teenagers doing totally stupid stuff-but to die for stealing 5 bottles of beer-come on!!!! the guys restraining him should’ve known that they were applying too much force by his reactions to the force. I say if you don’t know how to restrain properly- then leave the person alone. this is some Eric Garner type of ish–only the perpetrator was still a child. People this was a child for crying out loud!!! the majority of the remarks on this issue are racist as f@#$ and yea I said it!!!!

  • robert

    it seems like this kid had money-he was attempting to pay for the rest of his items-only he couldn’t buy the beer because of his age

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