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Chang Ho Yi, liquor store owner, sued by shoplifter he shot in the face

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At first blush, the lawsuit filed by Bryson Dewberry against Colorado Springs liquor store owner Chang Ho Yi seems patently absurd. After all, Dewberry's complaint faults Yi for shooting him in the face after he shoplifted a bottle of booze -- an action for which the owner was not charged.

But the story is more complicated than that.

The details of the incident, which took place on October 25, 2010, at Austin Bluffs Plaza Liquor in the Springs, are laid out by the Colorado Springs Gazette.

According to the suit cited by the paper, Dewberry snatched some vodka and ran to car parked nearby. Yi took off after him, armed with a .357 revolver, and opened fire, striking Dewberry as he sat in the backseat of the vehicle. The bullet traced a path from his torso to his jaw before blowing a hole through his cheek. At the time, cops said the bullet eventually wound up in the leg of a passenger, age seventeen.

Afterward, Yi didn't report the shooting: The police only learned about it after Dewberry and the teenager showed up at an area hospital and told their side of the tale. And when investigators quizzed Yi, the Gazette reports, he claimed not to know anything about such an incident and insisted that he couldn't have taken part in it anyhow, since he didn't have a gun.

That both of these claims were false no doubt contributed to Yi's arrest on an attempted murder charge -- because the state's Make My Day law permits business owners and homeowners to shoot in self-defense, but not if they're under no personal threat and are simply protecting their property. Once the facts of the case were shared with a grand jury, though, the El Paso District Attorney's Office decided against charging him, presumably because of the difficulty involved in winning a conviction under such muddy circumstances.

Continue for more about Bryson Dewberry's lawsuit, including photos. In a later interview, Yi told the Gazette he'd initially lied to the cops because he thought they were on Dewberry's side -- and besides, he'd hit his head and didn't really know what he was doing while pulling the trigger. On top of that, he still felt traumatized by a 2009 robbery during which he was shot in the gut and the assailant was never caught.

He also spoke about his background as a Green Beret wounded in the line of duty, but that turned out to be bogus. Military records noted by the Gazette show that he was never in special forces and worked as a truck mechanic.

Presumably, Dewberry, who hasn't exactly been walking the straight and narrow over the past two years (the paper refers to "repeated run-ins with the law"), feels Yi got off too easily. The suit claims he "recklessly and negligently" used a gun against someone who presented him no physical danger. The result left Dewberry "disfigured," the document maintains, noting that he's had to take part in speech therapy.

Look below to see a pretty un-disfigured-looking mug shot of Dewberry, as well as Yi's booking photo.

More from our Colorado Crimes archive: "Robert Wallace shooting: Make My Day law meets Gran Torino."

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