GREENSBORO, N.C. (WGHP) — The Blind Tiger asked for a judge to return the venue’s ABC permits and grant a restraining order against Alcohol Law Enforcement after claiming that the agency abused its power.
On Wednesday, that request was denied.
An administrative judge said the Blind Tiger team did not do enough to argue its case for loss of revenue or that ALE overstepped its boundaries.
Within the next 10 days, there will be a preliminary hearing where their case will be heard in full, which could result in the Blind Tiger’s licenses being taken away or returned.
The attorneys for the Blind Tiger and ALE declined to comment until after the trial.
The news comes after the Blind Tiger’s attorney pushed back against ALE’s description of the moments before and after a contracted guard allegedly shot and killed 19-year-old Pedro Alegria in the parking lot that the venue shares with other businesses on that corridor.
Blind Tiger owner Bradford McCauley, 47, of Winston-Salem, has since been charged with failing to superintend and hiring unlicensed armed security. Manager Donald Beck Jr., 55, of Greensboro, was charged with allowing violations to occur on the ABC-licensed premises and hiring unlicensed armed security.
Security contractor Jason Leonard, 28, — who was earlier charged with second-degree murder in connection to the shooting — and Anthony Delaney, 28, both of Greensboro, were charged with providing unlicensed armed security and allowing violations to occur on the ABC-licensed premises.
The North Carolina Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission suspended the ABC permits for the venue in August after ABC officials reviewed affidavits submitted by NC ALE special agents and officers of the Greensboro Police Department. On Wednesday, the Blind Tiger filed a motion asking the courts to issue a stay of the suspension and grant a temporary restraining order to prevent ALE from enforcing the suspension.
On Aug. 5, a 21-page summary of the deadly shooting, including testimony from ALE and Greensboro police officers, described the moments leading up to and after Alegria’s death and the alleged events of that night, including underage drinking, a guard brandishing a gun, a guard hiding the weapon used to kill Alegria, employees trying to keep police from entering the venue and people trying to wash blood off of a brick wall at the venue.
McCauley and Justus Ellis, one of the security contractors who was working that night, filed their own affidavits on Aug. 31 offering their perspectives.
Blind Tiger Attorney Amiel Rossabi said during a Sept. 1 news conference that “the Alcohol Law Enforcement affidavits are wrong and inaccurate.”
In addressing each point, Rossabi argued:
- underage people are legally allowed in the venue.
- underage people only had access to alcohol after breaking a security mechanism on a bottle of liquor.
- the alleged shooter broke Blind Tiger policy by having a gun.
- weapons were hidden without the owner’s knowledge.
- Blind Tiger employees did not let police in because they did not want any weapons in the venue, even those held by police officers.
In each of these cases, Rossabi said the Blind Tiger took the necessary precautions, so he says the blame should not fall on the venue.
“The Blind Tiger and its owners have been maliciously, unlawfully and wrongfully maligned by some in the media and some on social media and have been damaged by misguided and arrogant alcohol law enforcement officers who have abused their power and given false, inaccurate information to the North Carolina Alcoholic Beverage Commission which led to a summary suspension of the ABC permits for the Blind Tiger in violation of North Carolina law,” Rossabi said.
During their arguments in court, the attorneys for the venue argued that the affidavits and the merits the ABC Commission based its decision on were one-sided.
“The fact-finding on the one end is completely one-sided…the affidavits only tell the one side that sort of fits the conclusion first,” Attorney Michael Boyer said.
Glenn Lassiter, one of the attorneys for the venue, told the judge that the ABC Commission “failed to cite a single ABC violation under 18 B-104 leaving us to try to determine what laws were broken.”
During the petition hearing, Renee Metz, assistant counsel for the ABC Commissioner, argued there was sufficient evidence in this case.
When asked how a shooting outside of the venue by a security guard who was not consuming alcohol fit inside the ABC decision, Metz said “the fact that there were people inside drinking, and that they were drinking to the point that they got into a verbal and physical confrontation, and they did not properly diffuse the situation, and the security guard felt he had to use his gun. That is what we are here for.”
A lot of discussions were also had on the inclusion of prior situations that happened around 1819 Spring Garden Street such as drive-by shootings.
Counsel for the ABC Commission argued that it’s important information and that its decision is based on safety.
“Having an ABC permit is like having a driver’s license. It is a privilege, not a right. It’s not a property right,” the counsel explained.
During his ruling, Judge Jonathan Dills said he denied the petition for a restraining order and said, “I’m going to deny the motion because I don’t think you carried the burden of immediacy, primarily. But also on balance because there are some legitimate public safety concerns by what is presented.”
Rossabi released a statement to FOX8 after the decision and said “we appreciate Judge Dills giving us a prompt hearing on the TRO and look forward to a hearing on our Motion for Preliminary Injunction that is likely to occur very soon.”