Bar bouncers are caught on video acting like thugs and brawlers intentionally punching, kicking, using knee strikes, and stomping on patrons just like in the movie Road House.
- A reporter from the St. Augustine Record newspaper in Florida asked me to view video footage posted on YouTube and comment on the behavior of several Conch House Marina bar bouncers.
- You be the judge about how the bar bouncers handled the melee when you view this video for yourself. The bar bouncers are the big guys dressed in orange t-shirts.
My video observations
- Conch House Marina dock was critically over-crowed.
- Bouncers were acting like thugs rather than protective security.
- Bouncers yelling “chill out” is not effective in crowd control.
- I counted six people down with injuries or unconscious.
- I saw bouncers throwing sucker-punches.
- I saw a bouncer using a choke-hold on a patron.
- I saw a bouncer kicking, kneeing, and stomping on a patron.
- I saw blatant excessive force by multiple bouncers.
- I saw bar bystanders get knocked over like bowling pins.
- I saw a general lack of a bar security plan and training.
Your list may be much longer than my quick outline. The punching, kicking, knee strikes, stomping, and choking that I witnessed on this video was offensive rather than defensive force, and was not reasonable, under these circumstances.
There’s a lesson here about bar bouncers
It’s not always wise to hire bar bouncers whose main attribute is his large-size if the job description requires someone to have a calm professional demeanor and adequate training to manage a large crowd and drunk and disorderly customers.
From watching the video, I suspect that many of the Conch House bar bouncers:
- They had little or no security experience.
- They received little or no training in crowd control.
- They were not taught about the lawful limitations of using excessive force on customers.
In a crisis, like this one, inexperienced and untrained bouncers will fall-back on their physically aggressive instincts to solve what should have been a crowd management problem addressed in the planning stage.
That’s why these things can happen.
Duty of bar bouncers
A bar bouncer is supposed to monitor the crowd so everyone has a good time but within reasonable limits.
- Watch that everyone behaves according to rules of conduct.
- Patrons don’t become overly intoxicated.
- Or become bothersome to others.
The best bouncers are personable, friendly and can talk to intoxicated patrons without appearing threatening or intimidating. After all, these customers are the same welcomed guests that you admitted at the door, charged an entry fee, served your food, and your intoxicating alcoholic beverages. Bar management has a responsibility to protect them in the same manner as any other guest.
The best bouncers know that their job is not to bounce anyone…but rather talk to people. The mere presence of a well-trained bouncer will remind the patron that their conduct is being scrutinized and that their patronage can be revoked.
Conch House formula for premises liability
The owner of Conch House was the architect of the nature of this facility and what it became on this day. I’ve been told that it’s family-owned and for many years it was a nice place to visit, have lunch or dinner, and relax over-looking the marina. I don’t know why or when the nature of this family restaurant and bar changed to a wild entertainment facility, but on this day at least the party was executed poorly.
The Reggae Sunday party promotion on this Memorial Weekend 2015 may come back to haunt the owners and managers when the lawsuits, that are sure to come, are served. More than likely, the lawsuits will allege failure to provide adequate security; and failure to properly hire, train, and supervise bouncers before turning them loose on the guests.
A negligence claim for failure to provide adequate security may get some traction here because:
Conch House is private property and the bar owners determined:
- Who comes into the Reggae Sunday party.
- How many people come to the party.
- How many people are allowed to party on the narrow dock space?
- If minors were admitted to co-mingle with adults.
- If already intoxicated people could enter.
- How many drinks are served to each person?
- Whether intoxicated people can continue to drink.
- The timing and method of rule enforcement and patron conduct.
- Who was hired to work as a bouncer?
- If bouncer backgrounds and job references were checked.
- If bouncers have proper licenses if required.
- If bouncers have completed security and use of force training program.
- If bouncers exhibit proper use of force training on the job.
- If bouncers are supervised at all times and responded to instructions.
- If bouncers understood the use of force policy for safely removing persons.
Dozens of people were injured during this melee and some directly at the hands of the bar bouncers so I suspect that hiring, training, and supervision shortcuts were taken that contributed to the unsuitable bouncers being employed here.
Poor business decisions made the Conch House too intense on this day and placed too much responsibility in the hands of unprofessional bar bouncers to control patron conduct and foreseeable over-intoxication.
In hindsight, this was a big mistake.
I’ll follow this story to see what additional facts are known or if any criminal charges filed against the bouncers.
Bar Bouncers – Epilogue
Conch House Marina got a lot of public scrutinies and negative press
- The City looked into the venue operating license and permits to hold such an event.
- The Fire Marshal looked at whether the venue violated maximum capacity.
- One victim was hospitalized with a broken nose when he tried to help his girlfriend and he was beaten up by security.
- Another victim went to the hospital spitting up blood after he was attacked by several bouncers, knocked unconscious, and tossed into the water.
- St. Augustine police say no arrests have been made yet, but they are still investigating.
- According to their website, Coach House Marina and Reggae Sundays are back in business, as usual.
Learn More about Premises Liability Litigation
Download the book written by Crime School host Chris McGoey.
- Security Expert’s Guide to Premises Liability Litigation.
- Evaluating Crime Foreseeability and Inadequate Security Cases.