When a Black DJ was beaten in a racist attack in 2018, there was no security at the Rec Room Bar and Grill north of Lynnwood, a lawsuit against the tavern’s owner alleges.
In the lawsuit filed last week in Snohomish County Superior Court, the man argues the bar did little to protect him from a group of white supremacists.
The Rec Room on Highway 99 was staffed only by its manager, a bartender and cooking staff, the lawsuit says.
When the group showed up visibly drunk, one person at the bar reportedly called 911. But the lawsuit claims the tavern asked Snohomish County sheriff’s deputies not to eject them.
Instead, the bar continued serving them, the complaint says. They wore emblems linked to a hate group.
Four people have been charged in the attack.
The group arrived as part of a caravan of sorts to visit the site of a Whidbey Island cabin where Robert Jay Mathews, the neo-Nazi leader of the violent hate group The Order, died in a gunfight with dozens of federal agents on Dec. 8, 1984. It has become a far-right holiday, known as Martyr’s Day.
According to Snohomish County sheriff’s reports from 2018, a man in their group took over the DJ’s gear without permission, so the DJ shut off the music and ordered them to leave. They surrounded him. Men punched and kicked him while making “derogatory comments about his actual and perceived race,” according to federal prosecutors.
Police reports say they beat him to the ground and stomped him, while allegedly saying, “We will see you, (N-word),” and, “It’s over for you.”
The DJ was in “complete fear for his life,” a sheriff’s deputy wrote at the time. He suffered a swollen eye and other injuries. An Everett man, who is Asian American, was assaulted, too, deputies wrote. The federal indictment states a third person was also injured.
“This has been a very damaging event in his life,” the DJ’s lawyer, Allison Micheli, told The Daily Herald.
The lawsuit claims negligence by the bar’s owner, alleging that “serving alcohol to customers, failure to provide adequate security and allowing a large and threatening gang to remain on premises even after law enforcement response” partially caused the man’s injuries.
The complaint reports the DJ now lives in Louisiana.
The Rec Room’s manager said Thursday he wasn’t aware of the lawsuit. He said he would forward a Herald reporter’s contact information to the bar’s owner. The owner did not call.
Two years after the attack, four of the accused were indicted in federal court for the 2018 incident. They were charged with three counts of a federal crime and one count each of lying to the FBI.
Those defendants came from across the Pacific Northwest: Jason “Gravy” DeSimas, of Tacoma; Daniel Dorson, of Oregon; Randy Smith, of Oregon; and Jason Stanley, of Idaho.
In the spring, Dorson pleaded guilty to two criminal counts for a hate crime and false statements. He told an FBI agent he was in Washington for a punk show and didn’t know about the white supremacist holiday, according to court documents. Federal prosecutors alleged that wasn’t true.
Dorson is set to be sentenced next June.
DeSimas and Stanley are scheduled to go on trial in May.
Citing insufficient evidence, the Snohomish County Prosecutor’s Office last month declined to file charges against six others who were at the tavern the night of the attack.
Those individuals were identified as:
• Cory Colwell, of Eugene, Oregon. Video reportedly shows him on stage during the incident, but “there is a lack of evidence that he was actively engaged in the assault,” according to a deputy prosecutor’s memo obtained through a public records request.
• Travis Condor, of Pittsburgh. Prosecutors are unsure if he participated in the assault.
• Guy Miller III, of Tacoma. He reportedly told the others that “this is not what we are about” as he tried to pull people away from the fight.
• Leah Northcraft, of Raleigh, North Carolina. She told police she wasn’t part of the fight and she isn’t seen on video.
• Vincent Nutter, of Bothell. According to prosecutors, video shows him standing over the victim, but it isn’t clear he participated in the attack.
• Nathaniel Woodell, of Woodstock, Illinois. He told police he went on stage to get his friend, according to prosecutors.
“While their viewpoints and sympathy to those who did actively assault the victim is highly offensive, evidence to establish criminal liability for a hate crime is lacking for these individuals,” deputy prosecutor Tyler Scott wrote in his memo declining to file charges last month.