Just step away from the bar

“The situation could have been squashed. I tried,” said Jermaine Potter, and you couldn’t argue.

But like most common-sense conclusions, Potter’s was hindsight, though as inescapable as the ingredients that went into this tragedy: a crowded, popular Old City night spot, some men with short tempers, ill-chosen words and a gun.

The volatile Feb. 20 mixture at the Bleu Martini ended with Potter in a wheelchair, his brother Scoey dead and, as of Tuesday, James Thompson headed for trial.

Thompson, 27, of South Philadelphia, was held on charges of murder, assault and gun violations following a preliminary before Municipal Court Judge Kenneth J. Powell.

Both Potter and his other brother, Brian, testified about the altercation and shooting that took place about 12:30 a.m. at the night spot at Second and Market Streets.

Scoey Potter, 33, of Edgewater Park, died Feb. 28 of complications of wounds to the neck and side. Jermaine Potter, 29, was hospitalized for a month from his wounds and still uses a wheelchair.

Questioned by Assistant District Attorney Chesley Lightsey, Jermaine and Brian Potter testified that they, Scoey and a friend decided to meet that night for drinks at the Bleu Martini.

The get-together never got that far. Shortly after making their way to the bar, Brian Potter testified, Thompson complained that he was blocking a passage from the restrooms to the bar.

Potter said he pointed out to Thompson that other people got by. Thompson became angry and threatening, saying, “I have something for you outside … I’m going to pop you.”

Potter said he held his hands up and retreated but Thompson followed threatening to “put him in a coffin.”

The situation came to a head at the club’s front door when Brian Potter flattened Thompson with a punch to the face and then did the same to an unnamed friend of Thompson who tried to intervene.

At a bouncer’s urging, Potter said, he went outside and began walking away.

“I was speed-walking when I heard shots and thought they were shooting at me,” Potter testified.

Jermaine Potter testified that after Brian left, the fisticuffs continued outside with Scoey Potter knocking down Thompson’s friend.

“I turned and saw [Thompson] draw a gun and shoot,” Potter said.

In questioning the brothers, defense attorney A. Charles Peruto Jr. focused on the fact that Brian Potter first used physical force.

Both Potters maintained that they were unarmed and believed Thompson intended to kill them.

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