Officer Describes Club U Evidence
Saturday, February 26, 2005
A police department crime scene investigator testified yesterday that he found bloodstains on the wall of a D.C. nightclub after a patron was found fatally stabbed in the early hours of Feb. 13, evidence that could help city prosecutors shut down the nightspot in the heart of the U Street commercial district.
The investigator, Officer Kemper T. Agee, also told the city's Alcoholic Beverage Control Board that he had interviewed a witness who said the victim, Terrence Brown, 31, was attacked on the dance floor of Club U. The witness said Brown was then picked up and carried out by bouncers, who dumped the wounded man in the lobby of the Frank D. Reeves Municipal Center, where the club is located.
Under cross-examination from David Wilmot, an attorney for the club's owners, Agee acknowledged that police have yet to conduct lab tests that could identify the source of the bloodstains. But D.C. Council member Jim Graham (D-Ward 1) said the stains nevertheless provide the starkest evidence yet that Club U attracts a violent crowd and presents a danger to the community.
"If there's blood inside the club, then we have a final nexus connecting the club with murder," Graham said. "That, combined with all the other incidents of violence, should be enough for the board to revoke" its liquor license.
Late yesterday, the board finished a second day of testimony without reaching a decision about the club's fate. On Feb. 14, the board summarily suspended the club's license within hours after Brown was stabbed, another club patron was beaten and paramedics were shot at when they arrived to help.
Prosecutors from the office of the D.C. attorney general have asked the board to permanently revoke the club's license, citing a list of violent offenses in or near the club since March 2003, including three homicides, two stabbings and at least two assaults on police officers.
The club's owners, Warren C. Williams Sr. and Warren C. Williams Jr., have so far called only one witness in the hearings, which are scheduled to resume Wednesday. Wilmot has said that club patrons were not involved in as many as half of the 10 criminal incidents cited by prosecutors and that the Williamses have done all they can to provide security.
Yesterday, Wilmot said prosecutors have been unable to prove their assertion that Brown was attacked inside the nightclub. He called Agee's testimony about the location of the unidentified bloodstains "highly inflammatory." Supporters of the Williamses, who had gathered to watch the hearing in a government boardroom on North Capitol Street, groaned loudly when Agee testified that the witness, whom prosecutors refused to identify, said she was not frisked by bouncers even though she set off the club's metal detector.
Brown's sister, Lawan Snoddy, 43, also was in the audience yesterday. She said she believes the witness's account, saying her 25-year-old son also witnessed his uncle's stabbing on the dance floor by a man Brown "accidentally bumped into."
"The security guards, they carried him out and left him there to bleed to death," Snoddy said in an interview. "They probably didn't even know he was stabbed. They just left him there. . . . And I don't think they should ever get their license back again."