Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Bouncers

I've never had the occasion to go to Jack Magoo's Sports Bar and Grill and now it's for damn sure I never will. Two weeks ago, bouncers at the Broad Avenue bistro physically removed a customer from the bar because they believed he was intoxicated and creating a disturbance. The police responded to the scene to find an injured man on the sidewalk bleeding from a wound in the head. When the police became aware of the cane by the  man's side and his inability to speak with them, they suspected that this was more than just a drunk tossed out of a saloon. In fact, the aggrieved customer was Brian Roper, thirty year veteran and retired Captain of the Germantown Police Department, who suffered a debilitating stroke in 2007 which left him crippled on his right side and without speech. Roper offered a card to the officers explaining that he suffers from aphasia, a lasting side-effect of stroke caused by damage to the part of the brain that controls speech.  Roper declined to be taken to a hospital, so the officers took him home. That might have been the end of it had not some concerned citizen brought the matter to the attention of WMC-TV Channel 5, who reported the story in their March 25 nightly newscast when reporter Jason Miles interviewed Roper in his midtown apartment. My wife and I cried when we saw the report. You see, Brian Roper is a friend of mine.

I have spent half my life in bars and have known some bad-ass bouncers in that time. But I never saw any of them- not Skip Ousley, Campbell Kinsinger, Mac Thompson, or Rusty Neel- rough up a disabled customer. After an explosion on Facebook and other social media, Jack Magoo's issued a statement on their Facebook page through one of the unidentified co-owners, either Bryan Plunk or Jim Shannon, stating, "A recent report by one individual on social media and subsequent local news reports of alleged aggressive behavior toward a disabled customer greatly disturbs us." The bruises to both Mr. Roper's arms, chest, and head, however, are certainly not "alleged." The dissembling owner continued to say that he was tardy in responding to the matter because he was on sequestered jury duty without telephone accessibility, and his partner did not wish to respond to the news reports until they had time to confer. This is the grown-up equivalent of a doctor's note, exempting a student from Phys Ed. The owner continued, announcing the hiring of an "outside company to conduct interviews of the employees allegedly involved," and said that a statement would have been more forthcoming if not for the collection and examination of video surveillance. "It takes time to review all the video," the explanation read, "but it is being looked at to ensure the truth is brought forth. And we seek the truth." The rest of the online proclamation was enough boilerplate legalese to make Cory B. Trotz throw up. I don't know what the delay is. I got the story in one phone call.

According to police reports, Mr. Roper took a cab to the Three Angels Diner on Broad Avenue the night of March 14 to have dinner and watch the Memphis Tigers' game. According to Roper, he had been served there before without incident. In a happy mood, Roper proceeded to Jack Magoo's to celebrate the Tigers' victory in a boisterous sports bar atmosphere. When he got to the bar, Roper's drink order was misunderstood, as were his fruitless protestations to the bartender. Assumed drunk, Roper was ordered to leave the bar. When Roper angrily responded by trying to communicate through his ever-present notepad, three employees forcibly removed him from the nightspot and threw him to the pavement outside. A follow-up report was made the next day after Roper's friend and "interpreter," local musician Jim Spake, took him to the ER of Methodist North Hospital and re-called the police to give a more accurate account of the incident according to Roper. Officers Reinhardt and Norris took photos of the various scrapes and bruises on Roper's body before he was moved to the Intensive Care Unit due to a small brain bleed. He was released from the hospital Sunday morning.

I'll admit my prejudice in being sympathetic to Brian Roper's side of things. Our friendship dates back to the early 90s when Roper, Jim Spake and I were all volunteer programmers on WEVL-FM90, and members of the same pub quiz team which we named "Chest Pains." Roper's specialties were sports, military history, and great books, but there wasn't a single subject of which Brian did not possess some passing knowledge. He was a great wit and known to have a cocktail or three, although I never witnessed any aberrant behavior on his part. What made his stroke even more saddening was that it deprived Brian of his ability to express himself. I was present in those early days of his recovery and saw his frustration over knowing what he wanted to say, but being incapable of forming the words. Conversations with Brian became a guessing game akin to "you're getting warmer," and were difficult to conduct. To my shame, because it became uncomfortable for me, I allowed our friendship to slide, ceasing regular contact with Brian and moving on. Jim Spake, however, stood by his side through good times and bad, and knows Brian so well that he can anticipate, understand, and "interpret" Brian's speech patterns. Thus, Spake's insistence that an additional police report was necessary. I spoke with Spake before his gig with Lucero in Pawtuckett, Rhode Island, and he was firm in his defense of Roper. We agreed that even if Brian were knocked-out loaded, that would have been no excuse for throwing him in the street, and even the smallest amount of examination would have revealed his disability.

I know that where I work, if I ever put my hands on a customer, I would be gone within the hour. That's because the owners emphasize customer service above all else and this was made clear to me before I was employed. No business, bar or otherwise, allows their employees to physically eject a customer from the premises without the tacit approval of management. I was therefore not surprised that despite Jack Magoo's insistence that the bar "maintains the highest ethical standard," there was no expression of regret or attempt at apology in their online legal brief- only a promise of an internal investigation, then they'll get back to us. This delay has created turmoil among those who care about Roper, and a Facebook discussion of a musicians' boycott has already begun. If I were advising the owners of Jack Magoo's, I would tell them that if you wish to salvage the reputation of your establishment you should immediately issue a public apology, announce that the thugs that abused Roper have been terminated, and promise that nothing like this will ever occur again. Then I would quietly offer some restitution to Roper personally to compensate for his injuries and public embarrassment. So far, it's business as usual, and a glance at Jack Magoo's Facebook page trumpets "60 cent wings and $3.50 Margaritas," to which one commenter replied, "If I come, please don't dump me out of my wheelchair."  Brian Roper deserves better, and if Jack Magoo's doesn't act properly and soon, he just might get it.

 

11 comments:

Alan said...

Randy I agree with you on most points. In defense of the owners of Jack Magoo's, we live in a time when liability is one of your major concerns with this type incident. The owners need to fire who ever was in charge that night, but to judge them by their public response when looking at a law suite their attorneys and insurance company would not want them to say anything publicly. You need to see how they handle it going forward and give them a chance. If Mr. Roper has a problem getting the correct compensation or Magoo's owners lie about what happened then go after them.

DC said...

They're worried about liability because they're LIABLE. It takes about 30 minutes to review a security camera video. This delay is only hurting their establishment, lawyered up or not. Doing the right thing is completely different from taking action to avoid a lawsuit. I agree with everything Randy said.

mistylavender714 said...

Thank you Randy, Let's not forget this !!!!

Anonymous said...

I ascribe this barbarity to the general coarsening of our culture. Magoo's should have to bleed a little (monetarily) to ensure that this never happens again there, and to put the rest of the bars on notice that they will suffer consequences if they don't properly train their staff to act in a civilized and responsible manner. By the way, Campbell Kensinger went down fighting. He broke into some guy's house to kick his ass and the guy unloaded a .38 into him. When the police arrived, he was still alive and tried to kick them. Now there's a bad ass for you. But not bad enough...he died from his wounds.

Cindy Tatum said...

I loved Brian's show on WEVL-FM and followed him when he was on there. It breaks my heart to hear about this happening to him.

Anonymous said...

Help, Leg Broken ! ! Does anyone know the attorney or law firm representing Brian Roper (Retired police off.) that was bounced from Jack McGoos ? I am age 60,
and handicapped as well,thrown out the door in same area unprovoked / sober, left when asked by 4 bouncers.
taking pics w/my cell by 4 bouncers.


sober minding my own business.

Bugs Bunny said...

Don't glorify Campbell kensinger!!
THUG..BULLY..POLICE SNITCH.. heartless sociopath... these are the kind things I can say about him. I knew him well.
Without a doubt he is a bad son of a bitch.. so was George Howard Putt...no,he was toughest sob I have ever known.. but he did a lot of chicken shit stuff too... he and his cronies beating up defenseless people for no reason. It makes me wanna puke when I read people writing about that they admired him,.
Kensinger was the embodiment of pure Thug... there's no doubt in my mind that he is burning in hell.

Bugs Bunny said...

You failed to mention ,Kensinger
Kick in a guy's door (name Mac McCullum), attacked Mac's room mate,a guy named Skinny, broke his arm with a pair of brass knuckles, then he was going to get Mac... but he was greeted by Mac with a 9-millimeter.
End of Campbell.
You asked for it; you get it.

Bugs Bunny said...

You failed to mention ,Kensinger
Kick in a guy's door (name Mac McCullum), attacked Mac's room mate,a guy named Skinny, broke his arm with a pair of brass knuckles, then he was going to get Mac... but he was greeted by Mac with a 9-millimeter.
End of Campbell.
You asked for it; you get it.

Savana Chambers said...
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Savana Chambers said...
This comment has been removed by the author.