D.C. alcohol regulators fined a nightclub $2,000 and suspended its liquor license for seven days because a security guard shoved and injured council member Vincent C. Gray during a September identification dispute.
The D.C. Alcoholic Beverage Control Board issued the penalties against D.C. Eagle at a meeting last week after Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration investigators concluded the guard used “unnecessary physical force.” The club will close Saturday and reopen March 30.
“We regret that ABRA has seen it fit to suspend our license for 7 days,” wrote Ted Clements, a D.C. Eagle owner, in a Wednesday Facebook post. “During that time, we will not be open to the D.C. community at large and our employees, many of them residents of Ward 7 and other parts of the District, will not receive pay.”
“We have apologized for the incident with Councilmember Gray, and hope that we can move forward, and continue to thrive as the largest and oldest gay bar in the District of Columbia,” he wrote.
The website DCist first reported the penalties against the club.
In September, Gray (D-Ward 7) went to D.C. Eagle, in his Southeast Washington district, as part of Art All Night, a citywide arts festival at local businesses.
Surveillance footage reviewed by investigators shows Gray, 76, entering the nightclub and showing his council member identification to a security guard behind a counter, according to the alcohol agency’s incident report.
The security guard, who appeared upset, emerged from behind the counter and pushed Gray out the front door, the report says. Gray fell to the ground, and footage showed the guard standing over him and walking back inside without helping the lawmaker back up.
Authorities said Gray had minor injuries but declined medical help.
The guard told investigators that Gray was being belligerent and rude when he was asked for identification with his date of birth. The guard told investigators that Gray told him to “make him leave” and to call the police.
The guard, who has not been identified, no longer works for D.C. Eagle. The liquor agency report references an arrest warrant issued against him, but police have no record of an arrest. Police referred the incident to alcohol regulators.
D.C. Eagle, in its Facebook post, said the incident with Gray “was regrettable but would have been avoided if Councilmember Gray would have presented his drivers license or another ID, especially since he drove by himself to the bar that day.”
Aides to Gray did not immediately return requests for comment.
Gray served a term as mayor before losing a reelection bid in 2014. He was elected again to the council in 2016 and now chairs the health committee.
Peter Hermann contributed to this report