An Atlanta man reportedly shot two Amazon Flex delivery workers just minutes apart, claiming when arrested he thought they were trying to burglarize him when they dropped off his packages. The victims have filed a lawsuit against the e-commerce business, claiming its negligence contributed to the two men’s harm.
Lawyer Denson and Eduardo Gutierrez were shot by Keontae Guthridge in northwest Atlanta, after they were sent separately to his home to deliver packages on Thursday, Jan. 13 around 7 p.m.
The plaintiffs claim in their suit that the mostly Black neighborhood that Guthridge lives in is a notoriously “high crime area” called “The Bluff.”
The employer allowed both drivers to use their personal vehicles to drop off the items but did not give them safety vests from Amazon to identify them as drivers.
Civil Rights attorney Ben Crump of and his co-counsel Hilliard Martinez Gonzales are representing Denson and Gutierrez’s interests in a newly filed negligence case on Wednesday, March 23, in Fulton County court. The lawsuit accuses Amazon of negligence and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
Crump alleges Gutierrez, who was on his third shift working as an Amazon Flex delivery driver, left a package at Guthridge’s front door but hustled away after hearing dogs barking and seeing a red dot from a laser pointer pointing in his direction.
As he walked back to his vehicle, Guthridge unloaded five shots in his direction. Four of the shots hit his vehicle, while one hit the man’s belly. As he bled, he called his wife and drove himself to a nearby restaurant, and the owner of the business called 911 on his behalf.
“Fearful of being attacked by the dogs, Plaintiff Gutierrez turned toward his car when he saw a laser pointing at him,” the lawsuit states. “Plaintiff Gutierrez then heard gunshots and began to run. Plaintiff Gutierrez then felt an intense pain in his stomach and saw blood spewing from his abdominal area.”
Minutes after the first driver was shot at the residence, Denson was dispatched to deliver yet more packages to Guthridge’s home. When he dropped off the package, he took a picture of it to confirm its delivery.
Denson told authorities as he was taking the photo Guthridge emerged from the home with a gun. Denson was shot as he turned to run, suffering paralyzing injuries from being hit in his spinal cord.
He immediately called his mother and she alerted 911 and used the feature “Find My iPhone” to give dispatchers her son’s whereabouts. Paramedics transported the young man to Grady Hospital. The attorney said Denson has been left a paraplegic and can no longer feel or move his legs.
“Plaintiff Denson was able to muster enough upper body strength to drag himself to his car and call for help,” the complaint continued. “Plaintiff Denson was unable to reach a 911 operator, so he called his mother, Rosalind Harrell. Believing he was going to die, Plaintiff Denson said to his mother: ‘I’m not going to make it, momma. I love you.’”
A police warrant around the altercation stated Guthridge claimed he believed both men were robbers when he shot them.
According to local station CBS46, Guthridge contends he was robbed two weeks before the incident around the 2021 Christmas/New Year holiday, and he had already received packages earlier on they day of the shooting.
For shooting the two men, Guthridge has been charged with civil battery, aggravated assault, and aggravated battery.
Guthridge’s mother, Mia, said he was only protecting his family: “It’s heartbreaking because he has a 9-month-old out on the street, his wife, and now they’re put in a tough situation.”
Crump and John C. Duff, a trial lawyer with Hilliard Martinez Gonzales LLP have dropped the onus of the responsibility for the shootings on Amazon.
“If Amazon cared about him and his family like they care about profits we wouldn’t be here,” Crump said in a statement.
Duff said, “Amazon has known for a while that they need to just protect their drivers and they have not done so.”
“These two men were seriously injured while working for Amazon, one of the largest and wealthiest businesses in the world,” Crump said in a statement. “Amazon has a moral obligation to do more to protect its employees.”
He continued, “Neither of the men were given Amazon-branded materials or sufficient training, which directly led to this dangerous and tragic situation.”
“We demand justice for these men and their families, and we will not stop demanding change and accountability from Amazon until we are certain that this will not happen again.”
Crump claimed the industry standard is to provide drivers with “software which tracks deliveries and notifies customers when a driver is nearing their residence.” This would have alerted Guthridge of the two deliveries before anyone approached his door. His statement posted on Twitter errantly claimed Amazon does not use such software.
Kelly Nantel, a spokesperson for Amazon, said the company was “aware of this terrible incident, and express our deepest sympathies to the two drivers involved.” She further noted Amazon offers “support to them both and to law enforcement as they investigate these crimes.”
While the company has not commented about their part in protecting their drivers, a link on their website notes they do offer their Flex drivers uniforms but they are not required to wear them. Also, vests and window clings are available for those who work in the field, using their personal vehicles.
CBS46 notes since the shooting, Denson says “life is definitely different.”
“It’s been tough,” the victim said. “But I just got to keep working forward, keep moving forward.”
Denson and Gutierrez are seeking at least $400 million in damages. $350 million of the damages are connected to Denson’s permanent spinal injuries.