Bouncers Beat Patrons, and Cops Look the Other Way

Bouncers Beat Patrons, and Cops Look the Other Way

The night of the beating, the beach bar pulsed with drunken euphoria. It was well past midnight on that cool December evening last year, a moment for celebration for two Canadians who ambled inside Dirty Blondes. One of the men, Erik Kormos, a yacht captain, had just gotten engaged to marry, so he and his friend Ernesto Palij, a chef, barhopped through this throbbing row of bars along A1A near its intersection with Las Olas Boulevard. Now, nestled into chairs around the bar, they ordered what would be the first of many drinks.

The bouncer's fist struck Palij's jaw like an atomic bomb.

One hour melted into the next. Then, around 4 a.m., the two friends heard screaming and stepped outside to investigate. There, in an alley, two women — short skirts, messy hair, bloodied — thrashed at each other with nails and knuckled fists.

"Yo, man, do your job!" the 42-year-old Palij remembers yelling at a nearby bouncer standing at the melee's edge. "They're going to kill each other! Do something!"

The bouncer's fist struck Palij like an atomic bomb. Palij collapsed on the pavement, he says, his head narrowly missing a nearby railing. Several Dirty Blondes bouncers swarmed his crumpled form.

"No!" Kormos says he screamed, rushing forward to push one of the security men, who turned his glare upon Kormos' five-foot-nine frame. The yacht captain sprinted away. The bouncers abandoned Palij and took off after Kormos.

He didn't make it far, a police report shows. Just 20 yards north of the bar, near Las Olas Boulevard's end, Kormos tripped. Then, for the next 30 seconds to several minutes, the five bouncers worked him over, claims Kormos, 36. "The guy knocked me in the back of the head, and I went down unconscious. Then I woke up, and they were kicking me in the stomach, in the ribs, in the balls, in my head. Five guys on one. They just wanted to kill someone that night."

"Stay down!" one of the bouncers yelled, Kormos recalls. "The cops are coming for you!" But when Fort Lauderdale Police arrived 15 minutes later, the bouncers had scattered and Dirty Blondes was shuttered. Wanting to forget it ever happened, Kormos declined to press charges or file suit, and police investigation into the incident ended right there and then. "The cops," he says, "just brushed it off like this happens all the time."

Dirty Blondes, a Spartan beachfront bar populated by bikini-clad tourists and pool tables, has long been one of the most popular beach spots in South Florida. But in July, a countervailing narrative emerged after a violent video shot outside Dirty Blondes ignited outrage from Miami to London. In that 15-second clip, three bouncers attacked two men in a scene as animalistic as it was short. While a bouncer thrust one of the men, David Parker, into a headlock, another bouncer sucker-punched the second patron, Alex Coelho. He crashed to the beer-splattered pavement, where that same bouncer stomped on his head. The beaten men fled but returned soon to the bar, only to be cuffed. Arresting officer Mark DeCarlo, who works off-duty at nearby Exit 66, dispatched a report bereft of details involving the violence.

Dirty Blondes, hammered on social and local media, immediately went into crisis control. The bar deposited a hasty apology calling the assault an "isolated incident." And Fort Lauderdale Police spokesperson DeAnna Greenlaw called the video "disturbing" and urged Coelho to volunteer a statement.

But a New Times investigation has found that this altercation was anything but isolated and that when such assaults occur, local police have every incentive to protect the bouncers because of an undefined — and lucrative — off-duty policy. Taxpapers provide the cars, gasoline, uniforms, training, and guns that enable cops to take off-duty but uniformed freelance work at bars. But unlike some other local agencies, the Fort Lauderdale Police Department doesn't track how much money or what gifts cops haul in during this work. On the beach, some cops can make as much as $600 per week, one source estimates, and such cash can perhaps sway a cop's allegiances. Nine people who experienced or witnessed bouncers pummel patrons say responding cops either didn't reprimand the bar or filed a report that misrepresented events.

And all nine of those people saw it happen at bars owned by two Israeli-born men named AJ Yaari and Lior Avidor, who, in terms of sheer sweep, are perhaps the two most important men on Fort Lauderdale Beach. They own a king's swath of the beachfront: Dirty Blondes, Exit 66, Rock Bar, Sangria's Cafe, Spazio, St. Bart's Coffee, and the forthcoming Tsukuro. Since March 2009, according to police reports, county civil records, and dozens of interviews, security personnel at these establishments have beaten at least 21 patrons in 16 separate incidents. Excluding the now-infamous July incident, which slapped bouncer Arnald Thomas-Darrah with one count of felony assault, only one bouncer has faced charges, court records show.

"The bars own these cops, and that is all there is to it," explains a former high-ranking city official who requested anonymity. "Money talks. These bars buy protection like a Mafia operation. And if any violations come, they have their sentinel out there who's protecting them from the government."

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15 comments
aliasetc
aliasetc topcommenter

Avoid ft lauderdale at all cost! In fact avoid Florida.

windmichael21
windmichael21

investigate the owners with criminal connections,and sale of extasy that is controlled by the israeli-russian mafia,and yes the local fbi office needs internal investigation.

icculus17
icculus17 topcommenter

if it's such a terrible place why aren't there ON DUTY police officers?  Seilier is a tool

trenchtowntito
trenchtowntito

Most redheaded dudes need a good asskickin...Just sayin!

johnsonhrld
johnsonhrld

Ok, Mr. Mayor you cant hide on this one! What are your plans for this corrupt activity ! Maybe just lose the City is an option

adolfojherrera
adolfojherrera

This is one of the things that killed Baja Beach Club in the Grove as well. As a former bouncer I can tell you with some validity that there is really no need to be douchebags like the ones at Dirty Blondes to do the job. Sure you have to deal with drunk assholes, so you get them yank them out of the club and goodbye. I never got paid enough money to exert myself that much in dealing with an asshole.

JohnnySwift
JohnnySwift

So why hasn't someone gone to that club and murdered those bouncers?  That is what I would do.  Nut up or shut up, is what I say!

frankd4
frankd4 topcommenter

...........................i would also offer that since "boys will be boys" and that alcohol and bath saltz and who knows what other mind and mood altering substances are injested by patrons and bouncers and bar owners operators................LET THESE places simply go somewhere else - GET THEM OFF THE BEACH = period - let the animals and savages and neaderthals have at each other under a bridge or down a dark alley SOMEWHERE ELSE in ft liquordale - then they could kill each other altogether and the CIVILIZED society can enjoy the beach without fear

URBAN WEEK got out of hand and police shot 106 bullets into a car two years ago - MORE POLICE are not the answer, bringing in the National Guard is not the answer, having the SWAT TEAM on the roof of the ELBO ROOM is NOT the answer, putting a police sub-station in the lobby of the RITZ CARLTON is not the answer = the answer is sweeping away these "stages" of insanity to some other location where they can pursue their savage and uncivlized clashes of the mental mindless and egotistical steroid-fuel physical combatants

gatornek
gatornek

Count me in.  Constantly looking over my shoulder for uneducated meat-head hooliganism is not really my vibe when I'm trying to chill with a few drinks and a few friends.  I will never enter into one of these establishments again.  There's only one reason people become "bouncers" instead of joining any reputable security establishment (PD, Brinks, etc), and that is:  prior arrest records.  They are basically just thugs trying to eke out a living by doing what they do best:  acting aggressively and without any type of tact or thought.

frankd4
frankd4 topcommenter

................................well now we have become ground zero for all the neanderthals to come here and challenge the status quo with upcomming SMACKDOWNs and HOULIGANISM from the savages from all parts of the globe

why the FT LAUDERDALA POLICE department bungled the initial investigation and took over a week to "change their tune" when the video came to light is a disgrace to the department which has no other reason than COVER-UP to explain its action - WHICH we should ALL hope is not the case

internetinternet
internetinternet

Off-duty policy.  All you need to know.  Essentially no police reports will be filed because they threaten you (victim) with arrest for trespassing, disorderly conduct and public intoxication.  Protects the bar against lawsuits because there will be no police records of the incident.  Only you the victim being told to leave.   

carlosmiller
carlosmiller

Spread this wide. Never spend another dollar in any of those places.

MrGumsandals
MrGumsandals

@JohnnySwift Only in the movies, but it's a movie I'd watch and I suspect so would a lot of other people.

JohnnySwift
JohnnySwift

@MrGumsandals  - Only in the movies?!?  That kind of stuff happens all the time.  Some dude gets kicked out a club, gets mad, and comes back with a gun and shoots the place up.  If I was ever treated like that I would shoot those guys dead.  I ain't afraid of jail.  been there, done that.  I ain't about to get punked by dudes like that, though.

 
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