In a letter to eyewitness news, the city says the dance floor was too large, and they were over capacity. The bar owners provided surveillance tape of the night at their hearing.
The surveillance footage from Halloween night at the Aviator Lounge was used as evidence during the bar’s liquor license emergency hearing.
The video shows a man being carried out by bouncers, and a scuffle breaking out with two men throwing punches at each other.
The city argued the bar did not have enough security to mange their crowd, and that had a ripple effect.
Rockford City Attorney Jennifer Cacciapaglia says “the violence, disorder, and mayhem allowed at the aviator is spilling out to the surrounding neighborhoods, detrimentally affecting our community.”
Aviator Bar owner Brandon Barnes says the video shows his security guards maintaining order. Rockford Police officers parked in the distance walk up to the scene, but they do not intervene. They let the bar’s security handle the situation.
Barnes points out to Rockford Mayor Morrissey that the altercation took less then a minute to resolve.
What the video does not show is whether the lounge was over capacity. And one allegation has fire has fire officials particularly troubled.
Cacciapaglia says “An emergency exit door was locked from the interior. A repeat violation from the international fire code posing a serious threat to human life and safety.
Barnes concedes the door may have been locked, but insist the bar was not over capacity. He says he used a clicker to count people going in and out. He feels he is being unfairly targeted.
Barnes says “there’s no need to shut down a busy business to that capacity. As big as a crowd that we have there’s no need to shut us down as an emergency order. There was no shootings, no deaths, nothing like that.