The Boston Licensing Board voted unanimously today to suspend the Legacy's liquor license for three days because the Warrenton Street club didn't immediately fire a bouncer who is shown on the club's own video cold cocking one of three visiting gay Texans who had been yelling transphobic insults at a drag performer and a transsexual regular at closing time.
At a hearing Tuesday, a Boston Police detective reported that police arrived on Warrenton Street around 2:30 a.m. on March 4 on a report of a brawl to find 15 to 20 people, many with blood-spattered clothing and clearly intoxicated, several with injuries and yelling for help as one man in a yellow jacket lay on the ground, barely conscious, blood pouring out the top of his head and his jaw broken.
At a meeting this morning, board members said that after watching surveillance video provided by Legacy, they concluded that as egregious as a bouncer, who had worked there for two years, punching somebody out was, Legacy compounded the problem because it obviously had no working policy for deescalating potentially violent situations and because it only suspended, rather than fired, the bouncer.
"You take pause when you saw what hapen and management did not fire this two-year employee immediately," Chairwoman Kathleen Joyce said.
Joyce said video the club supplied to the board showed that during an argument between the three men and a drag performer outside the club, the bouncer "came out of the blue" as the men were arguing with the performer and punched one of the men in the jaw, breaking it and sending him to the ground.
BPD Det. Karl Dugal testifed Tuesday that in interviews - via text and e-mail from his bed at Tufts in the case of the newly wired-jaw man in the yellow jacket - the men said they were on the opposite side of Warrenton waiting for an Uber after their third straight night at the club, when the guy in the yellow jacket "got into a scuffle with some locals." The argument grew heated - one of the men claimed a drag queen "loudly told them this was their city and why are you here?" and then a club bouncer "struck him out of nowhere with an uppercut," knocking him down with a broken jaw and opening up his scalp when he hit the ground.
Dugal continued that the men struck a nerve earlier inside, when they'd gone inside a VIP rope.
Last month, police formally charged the bouncer, Andre Lozano, with assault and battery causing serious bodily injury, and the performer, who goes by Arabella LaDessé, but who testified Tuesday as Rashaun Plourde, with assault and battery.
At Tuesday's hearing, LaDessé denied any violent intent towards the men - she said as a queer Black man from New Hampshire, she has learned to diffuse tense situations, which she said she was trying to do in March.
She said she had first noticed the three men the night before, when Legacy had a drag show and, when she talked with them, discovered they were not having a good time, because they were not into drag performances. She said she invited them back to the club the next night and told them they would have a better time and that while there might be some drag performers in attendance, they were not part of that night's show.
They arrived the next night and, at first, they seemed to have a better time - after, she said, they'd had a bad time at Club Cafe nearby - but things began to sour when one of them went around some ropes and got up on stage. Still LaDessé said she talked him down, the club photographer even snapped her and the guy with smiles on their faces.
But as the night ended, she said, they began hurling insults at a transgender patron who, she said, had rejected their attempts to pick her up. They then left, yelling "she was an ugly man anyway," and that "they don't have trannies where they're from," LaDessé said.
They went outside and she followed, trying to calm them down, not expecting any violence but "an adult conversation" with people she had been "very cordial with all night." Instead, she said, one of the men went "Is there an issue, who has an issue? I'm here to handle issues." She said she replied, "honey, honey, there are no issues."
Board Chairwoman Kathleen Joyce said this morning that while it's unclear from the video who started the overall brawling, what was very clear was that a bouncer "came out of the blue" and punched the issues guy's friend, in the yellow jacket, to the ground.
At Tuesday's hearing, Legacy manager Terrance Gathers said he immediately suspended the bouncer but that he would not fire him until the outcome of his criminal case.
Unacceptable when the video evidence is so clear, board members said.
The bouncer "was out there with bad intentions from the get go, from what I saw," board member Liam Curran said. "I don't see how they can look at [the video] and not have already fired him." He added he is concerned that the video showed the bouncer alone out on the street for quite some time - no other club employees went out to try to settle things down.
At Tuesday's hearing, Gathers said he rushed outside from his downstairs office as soon as he heard there was trouble there. "People were yelling Terrance, watch out, knife, knife, knife!"
Police said they found no knives.
Legacy has had no recent cases involving employees attacking patrons, and normally, under the board's usually procedures, the penalty for a first offense would be a warning letter. But board members agreed the severity of what happened, or didn't happen, in the case of firing the bouncer, warranted immediate escalation.
In addition to the suspension - for which Legacy has to propose three dates - the board also said it will require Legacy to retrain all its employees in de-escalation, and to provide proof that such training actually took place.
Legacy, however, can appeal the punishment to the state Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission. After the board voted to permanently shut the Sons of Boston because of an incident in which one of its bouncers allegedly stabbed a man to death, the ABCC overruled the Boston board.
Watch the Tuesday hearing (does not include the video referenced by the board today):