Meet the two men who started the Blake’s fight
The two men who picked a fight with a 69-year-old retired Atlanta police officer working security at Blake’s on Saturday now face felony charges over the incident, which started in the line for the upstairs restroom at the Midtown bar.
Vance Johnson (top photo) and Derrick Leegrant (second photo), both 22, now face charges of simple battery and felony obstruction for their alleged role in the incident, which took place about 1:30 a.m. on Saturday. Leegrant also faces two additional charges of criminal damage to property. Johnson was released Thursday on $5,000 bond; Leegrant remains in the Fulton County Jail.
The two men apparently became belligerent when J.J. O’Brien, a retired Atlanta police officer and longtime security officer at Blake’s, asked the two men to leave when they refused a request of a manger to do so, according to an incident report (PDF) released Thursday by the Atlanta Police Department.
“Officer O’Brien told Mr. Johnson he had to leave now,” O’Brien writes in the report. “Mr. Johnson refused and Officer O’Brien told him again to leave and Mr. Johnson refused and threw his drink in Officer O’Brien’s face. Officer O’Brien told Mr. Johnson he was under arrest and attempted to handcuff him.”
Then the situation escalated, according to the incident report.
“Mr. Johnson hit Officer O’Brien in the face knocking his eyeglasses on the floor. Officer O’Brien took Mr. Johnson to the floor as he was hitting Officer O’Brien and attempting to escape,” O’Brien writes.
“Officer O’Brien felt someone jump on his back and turned his head around and saw Mr. Leegrant on his back hitting Officer O’Brien with this his fists. Several of Blake’s employees and customers jumped in to help Officer O’Brien. Officer O’Brien finally got Mr. Johnson handcuffed and was escorting him down the ramp when Mr. Leegrant tried to run and a customer attempted to grab him. Mr. Leegrant ran into a customer car doing damage to left side of car. Officer O’Brien called for additional cars to help him secure scene,” he writes in the report.
Johnson suffered a scratch on his face and O’Brien’s glasses were broken.
The incident sparked a flood of officers to respond to O’Brien’s call for help. One witness said responding officers called some customers at the bar “princess” and “sweetie,” and ordered him to delete video of the incident.
Several witnesses told Project Q that they did not see or hear any police misconduct. Six witnesses, including three bar employees, filed statements with Atlanta police that also did not include allegations of wrong doing. On Monday, two bar employees told the LGBT advisory board for Atlanta police that they did not witness any wrong doing by officers.
Atlanta police have launched an investigation into the incident and asked for anyone who saw police misconduct to bring their information to the department’s internal affairs unit.
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