Actor cleared of homicide charge in death of man who fell at club

Sunday, July 1, 2007

NEW YORK -- An actor who played a prison inmate in a TV drama was cleared in a real-life criminal case after prosecutors said they couldn't prove he acted negligently in a fight that sent a clubgoer tumbling down a nightclub elevator shaft to his death.

A judge Friday dropped a criminally negligent homicide charge against Granville Adams, who said he was defending himself when he shoved Orlando Valle against a closed elevator door at swank BED New York on Feb. 3.

Adams said he was pleased to have been exonerated but shaken by the experience.

"There's only a few things that can happen in your life that are worse than having someone lose his life in your presence," said Adams, 43, who played prisoner Zahir Arif on the HBO series "Oz."

"It makes you reflect on how precious life is," he said.

Valle, a married father, was celebrating his 35th birthday at the Manhattan nightspot, which was once featured on the television series "Sex and the City." The club is known for providing beds for lounging patrons.

Valle's family said he tried to intervene in an argument to make peace but became involved himself. Adams said he was the one trying to break up the fight, and Valle attacked him from behind.

Adams pushed Valle against the sixth-floor elevator doors. They opened, and Valle plunged four floors before landing on top of the elevator car at the second floor, according to police.

"The people cannot prove that the defendant, by his actions, failed to perceive a substantial and unjustifiable risk that the elevator door would give way," Assistant District Attorney James Roberts told the judge.

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