An incident last month in West Hollywood has raised questions about just how far nightclub security can go in maintaining order: Weho Daily posted footage this week of a bouncer outside Voyeur knocking down and punching a drunk gay man,while allegedly hurling a homophobic slur. Voyeur is predominantly straight club but does host the occasional gay party.
The film quality is not ideal, so it’s not 100% clear what is being said, but LA Weekly has a transcript:
“Look at my face man,” the victim says, “-they fucked me up.”
Victim: “Trust me please I didn’t start the shit. I was with my boyfriend. I’m a gay boy.”
Face down on the ground, he tries to look up at his captors. One of them says:
“Yeah well your a fuckin’ [unintelligible] … Stop fuckin’ struggling motherfucker. ”
At that point the victim receives what appear to be a pair of punches, one to his back and one to the back of his head, by the winner in black.
“Stop resisting,” one of the men says. “Stay still motherfucker.”
Then one of the captors unleashes this: “Stop fuckin’ moving you cocksucker.”
Just then a security guard with a badge walks up, and one of the captors says, “Hey can we get some cuffs please.”
“Stay where you are motherfucker,” the victim is told. “Shut up.”
The victim, Timothy Reyes, might’ve started the shit after all: According to witnesses, he assaulted bar staff and other patrons at nearby Fubar. (Police say Reyes had started the fight over a jacket he mistakenly thought was his.)
It was when he was dragged outside that the violent takedown took place.
But the L.A. Weekly story also dug up some information of potential use to those of us who like to club-hop—exactly what amount of force can a bouncer use in the course of his job? The answer—not much. “They can defend themselves and others with force. But that’s about it,” writes reporter Dennis Romero. “They punch you, you can punch back.”
Um, good to know but we’re not gonna be punching 300-lb juggernauts anytime soon.
Romero’s source in the LAPD explains:
Speaking in general terms a bouncer is a citizen, so the rules of engagement as applies to a bouncer are the same as any other citizen. You can be reasonable to protect yourself and you as a citizen can affect an arrest for something that happens in your presence. If a bouncer is pounding on someone, he better have some justification for that. He can be held accountable for his actions both criminally and civilly.
That might help in the aftermath, but we’ve seen enough overzealous security guards to know it won’t stop them from wailing on you. Any of you have tales of woe involving belligerent bouncers?
Share in the comments—but keep any names out of it.
Photo via Elmo H. Love