Apr 152016
 

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by Arnaud and Naja Girard.......

From power trip to assault of patrons, some Duval Street bouncers seem poorly trained or out of control. The Blue Paper sampled this week’s bar brawls to report on the issue.

Robert Lee Klieves can’t remember why he was put into a helicopter with a brain bleed and flown to Kendall Regional Trauma Center in Miami last Saturday night. He is 60 years old, from Hudson, Florida. He came to Key West for his “first real vacation in 20 years” to visit his son Rob. He went to Sloppy Joe’s bar. The rest needs to be pieced back together.

“Around midnight,” said Klieves' son, Rob, “I got a phone call from my dad’s boss, Junior Angle. The two had gone together to Sloppy Joe’s. He said there’d been some sort of fight and my dad had disappeared.”

According to the police report, at 11:20 pm on April 9, 2016, officer Wallace was dispatched to the famous Duval Street bar in reference to an injured person. Standing on the sidewalk he found Randy Arnold, a black man, surrounded by a group of bouncers, including Ryan Whalen. Whalen claimed Arnold had pushed him and had hurt his hand in the scuffle to get Arnold ejected from the bar.

But how did Robert Klieves, who did not know Arnold, end up in a helicopter with a brain bleed?

“The bouncer was harassing the black guy,” said Angle, "The bouncer really started it."

Arnold, a 35-year old black man, was dancing with a white girl. “I did begin to wonder whether there was a racial tone; they were only picking on me,” said Arnold during a phone interview.

According to Angle, Whalen pushed Arnold in the chest. Arnold then picked Whalen up into the air and dropped him on a table next to Klieves. The table broke, drinks went flying. A pack of bouncers jumped Arnold. "There were 6 to 8 bouncers shoving him towards the door. Some were beating on him as they went."

Sloppy Joe’s Bar declined our request to have a look at the surveillance videos that had recorded the interior of the bar.

According to the incident report Klieves tried to pull one of the bouncers off Arnold. That bouncer, Adam Dale Johnson, punched Kleives in the head. Klieves hit his head on a chair and fell unconscious on the tile floor. Paramedics from Key West Fire and Rescue noticed Klieves was disoriented, recognized the first signs of serious trouble, and rushed him to the hospital, probably saving his life. The report makes no mention of independent witness statements and the surveillance videos were not taken into evidence that night.

Two blocks away, that same week, Bethany Rose was trying to enter another Duval Street bar, “Fat Tuesdays.” She’s a 25-year-old blond, blue-eyed New York girl, but the bouncer decided that her driver’s license was a fake. He claimed he knew what a NY driver’s license looks like and that hers was too “bendy.” Not only did he refuse to let her in, he demonstrated his theory by bending the card in two and confiscating it.

Bethany called the police. Officer Antonia Ane responded, “I asked if I could see the driver’s license and I would run it via F/NCIC to establish its validity. The bouncer gave me the driver’s license, which was bent and creased down the middle. I ran the driver’s license via KWPD Com 2, who advised the driver’s license was valid.” Ms. Rose was left with a mutilated driver’s license.

SEE ALSO June 7, 2013 by Sun Sentinel: Cops: Key West tourist got beatdown by bouncers

Caddy corner from Fat Tuesday’s, at the Garden of Eden, another bouncer had an issue with yet another black man, Darrin Price. According to the police report Price was asked to leave but became belligerent. Sergeant Pablo Rodriguez, famous for his radical methods, arrived first on scene.

[In 2014, the City paid nearly $300,000 to settle a lawsuit brought by a fellow police officer who claimed that Rodriguez had ordered him to erase a dash cam recording showing Rodriguez deliberately running into a bicyclist with his patrol car.]

SEE ALSO: BLUE WALL OF SILENCE COST CITY ALMOST $300,000

The report of the incident at the Garden of Eden describes Price fighting the bouncers, and that may well be the case, but again, there is no mention of the collection of any independent witness statements or surveillance camera footage in the report. To make matters worse, Sgt. Rodriguez, of all people, notes that he does not have a body cam as his is in for repairs. By the time the officers who do have body cameras that are not broken arrive on scene, Darrin Price is packed up and ready to ship.

“I was last on scene,” wrote Officer Gustavo Medina, “When I went up the staircase I noticed a black male [later identified as Darrin Price] facing downwards on the steps. Price’s head was facing the steps while he was on his stomach… my body camera was activated and uploaded as evidence.” The report relies exclusively on statements made by the bouncers.

There are numerous complaints on the web illustrating abuses of power practiced by some local bouncers:

One Garden of Eden patron titled her complaint “Ridiculous Bouncers”: “One topless woman was dancing in the middle of the dance area [Garden of Eden is a clothing optional dance club] with her man and a circle had formed around her. A very large bouncer was trying to make awkward conversation with the couple. I was dancing with my friends off to the side when the bouncer decided to push his way to the other side of the bar. He pushed me so I gave him a look. He asked if I had a problem with him; I said yes; he threw us out.”

According to the legal team at Madalon Law in Fort Lauderdale, bouncers have no more rights to use force than any ordinary business employee.

“Nightclub security employees do not have any special authority to use excessive force or violence in performance of their duties. Unless they are acting in self-defense or bringing a violent patron under control to prevent injury to others (protecting against an “imminent threat of death or serious bodily harm”), bouncers and security guards are not allowed to grab, tackle, or strike an individual being removed from the club. If they do so, this may constitute an assault, and may be cause for criminal charges of assault and battery against the bouncer, and/or civil charges against the nightclub owner to collect damages for injuries incurred.”

SEE ALSO: Security in South Florida Bars and Clubs: Do I Need a Lawyer?

There is a state license available for “security guards” with special training required, but it is not required for bouncers. Some local bars use off-duty police officers, however Sloppy Joe’s, for instance, uses only unlicensed bouncers; trained in-house.

At press time Robert Lee Klieves has been discharged from Kendall Trauma Center, but the physical and financial costs of the incident are still to be determined.

Klieves met with a KWPD detective asking that assault and battery charges be brought against Johnson. He also says he’s exploring the possibility of initiating civil action.

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Arnaud and Naja Girard
Arnaud and Naja Girard, publishers and editors of the new, digital, Key West the Newspaper (The Blue Paper) previously reported for the former Key West The Newspaper, Key West’s longest running independent weekly, published by Dennis Reeves Cooper, Ph.D., from January 1994 until November 2012. The Girards are perhaps best known for their discovery of and extensive research surrounding the US Navy’s 1951 claim of ownership of Wisteria Island but are also responsible for top investigative stories including breaking news coverage of the highly controversial in-custody-death of Charles Eimers on Thanksgiving Day 2013, the catastrophic police tasing of Matthew Shawn Murphy, and the property tax scandal involving Balfour Beatty to name a few. Additionally the Girards have become well known for their in-depth investigations into local governments' sometimes questionable dealings with high dollar developers. Arnaud and Naja have lived in Key West since 1986.
 April 15, 2016  Posted by at 8:59 am Issue #162, Naja and Arnaud Girard, News  Add comments

  13 Responses to “Bouncers Out of Control?”

  1. Its no surprise these never appear in the other newspaper. Its only turist propoganda. And since Eimers everybody know videos dont matter in any way.

    • This is a paper that prints the truth no matter who gets hurt.
      I promote this paper as much as I can. Sent link to forum that has thousands of readers. Hopefully the results will be new readers and might also cost some tourists when they read about cases like this and the corruption. In time KW will get the attention of someone with the power to bust them. It only takes 1 person with the right connection and this little town will have serious problems.

      Keep up the great work Arnaud and Naja.

  2. They count on the fact that a tourist will not want to spend the time and money to go after the bar or bouncer in court. Each trip could cost hundreds of dollars.

    And yes an in house bouncer, security officer or off duty cop paid as a security worker can be charged with assault and sued for damages. Usually the law suit is on the bar.
    Depending on what they do the worker could end up with a felony and that might keep them from working bars. Sooner or later the a– holes screw with a local and then they face a trial that might cost the bar thousands or raise insurance to an amount that closes the bar. Also the bar risks the lost of license.

    Will admit it is a tough job because they are dealing with intoxicated people. Be warned a con artist can and will set places like this up to sue them.

    As to the idiot destroying the ladies license she should have filed charges. Although she could leave there is the issue of damage and theft. If nothing else it will cost him time in court and court costs as well as her cost for new license. Likely a few other charges. What mr tough guy best understand is a husband or boy friend just might be waiting for him and crack his head open with a bat.

    The best way to get back is to picket the bar for a few hours. A loss in customers will cost them hundreds an hour. Also spread the word to other tourist not to go to that bar. No won’t close them but every customer that stays out is lost money.

  3. Could you give us an update on the dog lady that was about a year ago. This was an off duty cop paid as bouncer but used her badge

    • The State Attorney declined to prosecute. Still researching a story on how DEP and the resort in question are disregarding the covenants in the submerged lands lease that protect the public’s right to free use of the dock…

      • I would have hoped she would have filed a lawsuit. She could and still should sue that bar. That the state attorney dropped the case is no surprise being she was on public property. A case like that would easily bring a few hundred thousand and she should have had the bouncer / cop charged with assault.

        If people put up with type of s— it will never stop. Money get’s attention.

  4. Where has the city council been ? All it takes is a local law that requires bouncers (public relations experts) to attend and graduate from bouncers school. Back in the early sixties I was a bouncer in a 500 patron club in northern New York. I knew in my mind that I was there to protect the patrons, everybody. Including the trouble makers.
    Force was only allowed from my coworkers when bodily harm was involved. Any bouncers that thought they were God Like were fired. What is not happening to and will suddenly come crashing down on bar owners is the cancellation of their insurance coverage on their premises. This is a guarantee. We are not
    talking about a City that has an everlasting amount of money, we are talking about a private bar.

  5. Probably smart to steer clear of lower Duval Street bars and joints after dark, or even in the afternoon, unless you wish to live on the edge. Or over it. It is what it is. It ain’t pretty. Booze flows freely. Plenty else too. A local “exotic dancer” spent an hour about 2 years ago telling me all about the Duval Street bars and joints in which she had worked, How the girls and the men related. Wouldn’t want my daughters living like that. She said young off duty KW police officers providing security in the bars and joints she had worked, also trafficked drugs in those bars and joints.

  6. Sloan, I believe you but the point behind tourist going to KW is the wild parties.
    As to the cops selling drugs I have heard that many times. And likely it is 100% profit as likely they were confiscated in busts and the method after trial is likely to get rid of them. In a corrupt town such as KW it would not surprise me as to who all gets a cut of the money.

    While there is plenty of evidence for the feds to bust this town and that might happen soon it leaves a question of the future of KW if it happens. As anyone can clearly see many violations are ignored. Things like open containers, drunk drivers , public intoxicated people, j walkers, and etc go with little ever said. And what goes on at FF tops any town. But the day this stops so do the tourists. Guess it is a trade off. The people accept a corrupt town in exchange for the money coming in and the jobs it creates. But yes a bar could easily get closed down if it screws up with the wrong person. Some will go after them if they have enough witnesses and video to make a case stick. If smart a bar will not have thugs as security. When places like Sloppy Joes needs security at every door it keeps us from going in as it is advertising we have problems.
    This is the http://WWW.world and camera world. Chances are very high someone is recording any altercation. Word of mouth can destroy tourist from any bar or even KW.

    The voters could fix the problem but seem scared to do so or just blind to what is going on. And who are you trusting the ballot box with ? What you have is the fox watching the hen house.

    From just what this paper publishes is more than enough for the feds to come down. And what you might not know is just maybe they are investigating right now. They might have a few agents undercover right now in KW. They don’t make small busts, they gather hundreds of names and then it all goes down at 5 AM one morning.
    You might wake up one morning to find the feds took control and many cops and others behind bars.

  7. A major problem is the symbiotic relationship between bouncers and the cops who work lucrative off duty details in the bars.

  8. They are not even close. And at question is can an off duty officer wear the cop uniform while doing off duty security job ? I think not.
    Problem is they are trying to look like a cop .

  9. My name is Darrin Price. The very same. Happened to stumble upon this on a random Google search and I must say, I’m suprised to see this lol not sure what to say except the worst part about it was being called a “lesser person” (their words). I’m currently on my way down for court for the incident lol

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