Bar altercation could reveal security loophole

Posted at 7:10 PM, Oct 27, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-27 22:10:10-04

SAN MARCOS, Calif. - Surveillance video of a bouncer's punches could reveal a security loophole that may put bar patrons at risk.

In April 2015, just before midnight inside Players Sports Bar in San Marcos, Mark Rodriguez was hanging out with his sister and her boyfriend.

"My sister had a purse in her hand," said Rodriguez.

Rodriguez, thinking his sister had wasted money on another purse, took the purse and looked inside.

"She was actually making fun of the purse at the same time I thought it was her purse," said Rodriguez.

When the real purse owner showed up, the commotion drew the attention of a bouncer.

"I was explaining to him this is a big misunderstanding," said Rodriguez.

Rodriguez said as he chatted with the man on the patio, another bouncer showed up and became aggressive.

In surveillance video, Rodriguez is seen being grabbed from behind.

"He was calling me names. We were arguing back and forth," said Rodriguez.

Rodriguez -- who said he had about four beers in more than four hours -- said he kept raising his hands to show he didn't want to get physical.

Rodriguez said he flipped the bouncer's Padres cap, bragged about the Chicago Cubs, turned around, but was suddenly taken down by some 12 punches to the face and body.

"I was shocked, confused and fearful of what was going to happen," said Rodriguez.

Moment after the incident, he called 911.

No arrests were made, but Rodriguez suffered a ruptured eardrum and a severe jaw bruise that prevented him from eating solid foods for weeks.

Rodriguez is now suing the bar, and a civil trial in the case is set to begin on Oct. 31.

Scott Savary, Rodriguez's lawyer, said the owner used a legal loophole that allows employees without proper training to work security as long as they aren't in uniform.

"They simply took the security clothing off the guards and removed the obligation to license them. One of the bouncers working that night was a felon. The bar is essentially concealing … they have people working security not properly trained, licensed with no background checks, which potentially creates needless danger for its customers," said Savary.

Nightclub security consultants told 10News about 3 in 10 local bars and clubs use the loophole, leading to a string of claims of abuse in the last few years.

"That's not how you treat a guest. You have to treat people better than that. You expect to be safe, but you get the opposite," said Rodriguez.

In court documents, the bar owner claims Rodriguez hit his bouncer when he flipped the cap, which Rodriguez denied.

10News reached out to the attorney representing the bar but didn't get a call back.

A state bill to partially close the loophole was vetoed by Gov. Jerry Brown last year.

Another bill is expected to be introduced in the next year.