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Board says Faneuil Hall bar not to blame for way one patron slammed another to the sidewalk outside, possibly injuring him for life

The Boston Licensing Board ruled today that J.J. Donovan's Tavern in Faneuil Hall Marketplace probably could have handled an incident involving a particularly aggressive patron on Dec. 4 better, but since he was not the one who yanked another customer to the pavement 150 or so feet away, causing possibly permanent injuries, the bar did not warrant any sanctions.

The Donovan's regular - off-duty Boston firefighter Robert Buckley - who is charged with the Dec. 4 attack was not involved in an earlier fracas involving two other men that led the bar manager to turn the lights up earlier than normal closing time. After holding a hearing on Tuesday and watching bar-supplied surveillance video, the board unanimously concluded that nobody had any clue that Buckley was so enraged at something that he would go up to a 68-year-old man up from Connecticut to celebrate his daughter's engagement and pull him down, causing injuries that left that man at Mass. General for more than a month and which have likely caused permanent movement issues for him,

After the hearing and watching video of the incidents, "it was bizarre watching [Buckley] walk down the street and grab this older gentleman," and fling him by the arm to the ground, board member Liam Curran said at today's meeting.

Board members said the bar manager and doorman, who watched or dealt with two apparent acquaintances of Buckley's grappling with each other in the bar and then continuing to argue outside - at one point one of them threw a cigarette at the other, then chased him down the marketplace pavement - probably should have called police at that point, instead of waiting until after they saw Buckley rushing towards the Connecticut man near Mija's.

But they noted that the police citation was for the attack that left that man on the pavement, bleeding from a skull-exposing gash in his forehead, not for the initial scuffling that Buckley was not involved in. Had the citation been for failure to call police for the initial fracas, board members said, they might have voted on a possible sanction, which could range from a warning letter to a suspension of the bar's liquor license for a set amount of time.

Still, board members agreed to ask J.J. Donovan's to file a written "dispersal" plan, one in which patrons who are asked to leave are watched to make sure they leave the area, not just the bar, where they could stand there and cause more trouble.

The bar - and Buckley - still face a lawsuit by the Connecticut man in Suffolk Superior Court. And Buckley, who was suspended from his firefighting job, still faces a criminal charge of assault and battery on a person over 60.

In the lawsuit, the man alleges that J.J. Donovan's failed to "employ proper nightclub security techniques" and failed to take "reasonable steps" to ensure the safety of the Steeles and other patrons, including not forcing them outside into the middle of a brawl.

At Tuesday's hearing, the bar manager and doorman said the initial altercation had ended - with one of the men disappearing along the cobblestones towards the waterfront - by the time the family and Buckley left.



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The bar doesn't face any penalties for withholding the surveillance video from the licensing board? That sets a pretty bad precedent...

Voting closed 13

Granted, they also didn't get it to them until a night before the hearing, but it's not like the board delayed that hearing because of the lack of video.

Voting closed 8

Says Only Type Of Establishment Where This Regularly Happens.

I mean, it's a *bar*, right? People get drunk and make terrible decisions. Of course there are things that could be done to reduce the incidence of all these shootings and stabbings and fights. They're just not things we're willing to do, as a society.

Voting closed 10

I'm not that keen to defend anything in Faneuil Hall, but LOL at street fights only happening outside of bars. Scroll down the uhub main page and you'll find plenty of fights.

Voting closed 6

but haven't you noticed that they don't tend to break out so much at restaurants, accountant offices, veterinary clinics, and grocery stores? Bars have a *particularly* high number of fights. Regardless of what you think the solution is, it would be silly to deny this.

(There might be other establishments that are peculiarly pugnacious, but I'm drawing a blank.)

Voting closed 3

Are there (clear, objective) guidelines for how a bar should handle incidents like this? Or does the board make it up as they go along, maybe depending on their mood, current events, or some other circumstances?

Voting closed 3