Crime scene

An area bar was ordered by the county’s Board of Liquor License Commissioners to pay a $1,000 fine after officers testified that a bouncer misled police following a set of outdoor brawls during a Halloween party where a man was stabbed.

At a hearing this week, liquor board members determined a bouncer at Kenny B’s Blue Marlin had misled a police officer, allegedly denying a physical fight had happened there after witnessing and breaking up a pair of related fights in the bar’s outdoor areas which sent one man to the hospital with stab wounds.

The bar’s owners argued that the bouncer, confused by the chaos of the Halloween party, had misunderstood what police were asking.

The bouncer has not been criminally charged for the alleged false statement, but officers testified at this Monday’s hearing that charges against him were pending.

The liquor license offense stemmed from two related brawls that night outside the bar, where Baltimore County Officer Ryan Weigle said he had been dispatched for a passerby’s report of a fight in the parking lot, but arrived after the skirmish had already cleared up.

The officer testified that he left after the bouncer allegedly told him that there was no physical fight at the bar, saying that “it’s all good... just an argument” and that there was no physical incident.

Janet Bryant, the bar’s owner, claimed the bouncer had misunderstood what he was being asked, saying that the bouncer believed the officer was asking if the incident was over. The bouncer was not at the hearing this week to testify, and the officer’s body camera footage of the conversation was not presented publicly.

Weigle said he returned to the bar shortly afterwards when a fellow officer told him that there had been previous issues with police being mislead there. At the same time, police were notified of a stabbed man who had just arrived at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center saying he had been injured at Kenny B’s Blue Marlin, Weigle testified.

“We’ve had instances at this establishment... where for one reason or another, we are misled,” Officer Steven Medley, the Baltimore County Police Department lawman assigned to the area of the bar that night, testified on Monday.

Medley said he had told Weigle to “take what they say with a grain of salt” that night.

Camera footage later revealed the bouncer had attempted to break up the pair of fights prior to police arriving, and helped take the stabbed man into a vehicle which drove him to the hospital before police had arrived.

Weigle testified he saw blood in the bar’s outdoor areas, as well as on the bouncer’s shirt, when he returned. Police later arrested Mohamed Ghonim, 33, alleging he had stabbed the man after the man punched Ghonim in the face in the smoking area, provoking a fight, and later punched Ghonim in the face again in the parking lot, provoking another fight where Ghonim allegedly used a broken beer bottle to injure the man.

The bouncer “pretty much downplayed the incident,” Medley said.

“I thought you guys were on my side,” Bryant, the bar’s co-owner, told the police officers at the hearing. She testified that the bouncer still works at the bar, and defended his statements to police, maintaining that he had misunderstood what police were asking that night.

“He’s not that type of person,” Bryant said at the liquor board hearing, testifying without a lawyer. “If I thought so, he’d be gone.”

She maintained that the bouncer thought police were asking about the first fight in the bar’s smoking area, and that the bouncer did not know about the stabbing, but that explanation was rejected by the liquor board and police officers, who reaffirmed that the bouncer was seen witnessing both incidents prior to police arriving.

“You can’t really come in and say, ‘Geez, we didn’t know’,” liquor board chairperson Susan Green said, adding that the bouncer had blood on his shirt from the stabbing.

“He had knowledge that [the stabbing] happened in the parking lot,” Medley said.

Bryant said she did not ask the bouncer, who was not present at Tuesday’s hearing, about what he knew.

Bryant said the bar’s owners “always cooperated” with police and “go the extra mile” with security, having recently bought a new security system which would allow the bouncer to see camera footage on a mobile device. She said she did not know about the stabbing until afterward, as she was running a costume contest inside.

Medley said the bar’s owners have been “very cooperative” with previous investigations, but the bouncer had misled officers after the fight and hindered the investigation.

The bar’s owners met with staff after the incident and regrouped to talk about how to move forward, Bryant said, upgrading security and placing signage outside. She blamed the fights on a changing neighborhood dynamic, saying drugs were to blame in part.

“It’s terrible, it’s horrible what happened,” Bryant said.

“You are trying to be responsible, you are trying to be cooperative,” Green said, adding that the board was “disturbed” about the bouncers alleged misleading of police. “This is not you, this is your employee,” she said.

The board penalized the bar with a $1,000 fine, but Green told Bryant the board was “very close to shutting [the bar] down.”