Club Vinyl lawsuit: Can venues be held liable for the actions of their bouncers?
|Barizonte inside Vinyl, where the melee began.|
"Somebody pulled me and pushed me to the ground and was kicking me," she says. "I couldn't tell who it was. At first I thought it was gang members. It was really random."
At that point, another member of Barizonte's group, law student Dayren Suarez, returned from the rest room, allegedly saw a woman-- later identified as Malia Calip -- attacking Barizonte, and tried to separate them. Soon, other members of the security team had restrained Suarez and Barizonte's boyfriend and were hauling all four of the group outside.
A report on the incident written by Darryl Honor of LDH presents a different version, alleging that Barizonte had struck Calip repeatedly and that her boyfriend "looked as if he had hostile intentions." According to Honor, his crew responded with necessary force to contain the situation and restrain the "intolerably drunk" females. That apparently included Honor sitting on top of a face-down, cuffed Barizonte on the pavement outside, with a knee in her back; even so, he claims, she somehow managed to kick him in the face and chip a tooth.
Barizonte denies assaulting Calip or Honor. "This guy was sitting on me," she says. "I was screaming and crying and cursing. I was saying I didn't do anything and they couldn't treat people like this. They said, 'Shut the F up.'"
The security team turned Suarez and Barizonte over to the Denver police. Barizonte says she was never read her rights and didn't even learn what the charges were until she was released from custody late the next day. At the jail, she continued to loudly proclaim her innocence: "My whole world was crumbling before my eyes. This one deputy got really aggravated with me. I was pleading with her. She grabbed my head and banged it against a plexiglass window."
That event was caught on videotape. The deputy was fired, and Barizonte received an out-of-court settlement from the city for the assault. But that didn't prevent her and Suarez from having to go trial on misdemeanor charges of assault, disturbing the peace and "disorderly intoxication."
At a bench trial, Honor, Calip and another LDH employee testified for the prosecution. Curiously, although Vinyl has numerous cameras in the club, video recordings of the incident were reported as destroyed and never presented as evidence. The police had done virtually no investigation of the complaint on their own, and Calip's and Honor's claims of injuries proved less than persuasive to the presiding judge. Barizonte and Suarez were acquitted on all counts.
Continue for more about the Vinyl lawsuit.