Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Revisiting Nightclub's Violent History After Officer Punched

Images posted to Annie's Inner Circle's Facebook page on Tuesday after a violent encounter with police occurred Monday night. 
A problematic Cincinnati nightclub is back in the news after a Cincinnati police officer was punched in the face when a melee spun out of control early Monday.

Annie's Inner Circle, at 4343 Kellogg Ave. had just concluded their "Sizzlin' Sunday" hip hop night when several fights broke out just after 2 a.m.

Jennifer Baker of Fox 19 reported that "five off-duty police officers were working a security detail at Inner Circle Nightclub at 4343 Kellogg Ave., said Lt. David Schofield.

Andre Curry, 30, was arrested and charged with assault on a police officer.

Another officer had to use a Taser stun gun on a 19-year-old woman who refused to obey commands to stop fighting, Schofield said.

District 2 police plan to talk to operators of the nightclub to make sure things are safe there in the future, Schofield said. 
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“We will determine if this is an isolated incident or if there needs to be more follow-up," he said.

Annie's Inner Circle has long been a nuisance to Fort Thomas residents, for different reasons.

RELATED: Sunday Nights During Fall Lead to Hundreds of Noise Complaints for Kentucky Residents From Ohio Nightclub 

The nightclub is situated across the Ohio River from Fort Thomas. Because of the valleys and topography, the music bounces across the river and is amplified. Fort Thomas city officials have been trying to work with the City of Cincinnati for years to help quell the noise, which often goes well past 2:00 a.m.

Cincinnati's noise ordinance states that amplified music is to cease at 11:00 p.m., but because Annie's in not located near a residential zone in Cincinnati, there are no Cincinnati residents to complain about the noise.

Fort Thomas City Councilman, Ken Bowman, said that he's been trying to work with Cincinnati officials help remedy the noise, which he estimates is bothersome to hundreds of constituents in Fort Thomas, but he said he's not gotten very far because there is no "regional noise ordinance" which spans state lines.

"Dealing with the city of Cincinnati on this issue was a slow and frustrating process," he said. "As long as the complaints were from this side of the river,  they seem to be of low priority to them." 

Multiple inquiries to District 2 Police Captain, Kimberly Williams, went unanswered.

Bowman said he did receive a letter from Cincinnati City Administrator, Harry Black, which stated that he directed his officers to conduct a noise study to determine whether or not Annie's was in violation of their city's noise ordinance.

Black's letter to Bowman indicated that officers took noise samples during two Sunday nights in October. He said that the noise levels for Annie's measured between 54.6 and 56.9 decibels and that sound limitations in the time period mentioned by Bowman are between 65-74 decibels.

According to IndustrialNoiseControl.com, a comparative example of a noise between 54 and 56 decibels would be a "quiet suburb, conversation at home, large electrical transformers at 100 feet" (50 decibels) or "conversation in restaurant, office, background music, air conditioning unit at 100 feet" (60 decibels).

The site also describes how the decibel ranges compare.

"60 decibels is half as loud as 70 dB. Fairly quiet, while upper 70s are annoyingly loud to some people."

"I found the noise assessment in decibel measurements to be suspect," said Bowman. "My return letter included decibel studies conducted on site that claim to show compliance with the city ordinances, but this should be revisited."

But while the noise which affects hundreds in Kentucky is annoying to residents, the nightclub's history has been far more troublesome and violent for police and residents in the City of Cincinnati.

According to Baker's report:

"Earlier this year, a 16-year-old girl, Hailey Hall, was assaulted as she left the club in the early morning hours of Feb. 29. Her boyfriend, William Arnold, 34, was arrested on drug charges after the alleged assault.

Hailey died at the hospital March 14. Arnold was indicted in August on two counts of murder and one count each of felonious assault, kidnapping, abduction and tampering with evidence. If convicted on all charges, he faces the possibility of life in prison.

Two separate shooting incidents have twice prompted operators to say they were halting hip-hop and rap concerts.

Four people were shot inside Inner Circle on Feb. 1, 2013, according to a Feb. 27, 2013 memo from then-Cincinnati City Manager Milton Dohoney Jr. to City Council. Three shooting victims were found in the bathroom. The fourth victim was found when he arrived at University of Cincinnati Medical Center via private vehicle.

The victims were all on the dance floor when a fight broke out involving other patrons.

"The victims stated they heard between one to three gunshots," the memo states. "It is believed the victims were struck with bullet fragments which could have ricocheted off other objects."

The shooting victims were all treated at the hospital and released, according to the memo.

At the time, eight deputies from the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office were working an off-duty detail at the club.

"Private security worked the front door and inside the club. They stated they were screening patrons prior to entering the club with metal detector wands. However, they admit they did not cover a “VIP” entrance in the rear of the club," the memo states.

"There were several shortcomings with the way deputies handled the scene that evening. Discussions have since occurred between the Department and the Sheriff’s Office to address those issues."

Back in July 2009, a lawyer for the operators of the former Annie' Entertainment Center, announced Sunday night hip hop and rap concerts were over after two men were shot and killed in a double homicide, according to Enquirer reports.

The lawyer's comments came after the commander at the time of District 2 police, Captain Doug Wiesman, said he planned to ask the nightclub operator to pull the plug on the concerts or face losing the club's dance hall and liquor licenses, The Enquirer reported at the time.

The club and the city had recently entered into a settlement that required Annie's to increase security after violence erupted in and outside the club on Sunday nights over the previous year, according to Dohoney's 2013 memo.

Two men were shot on the dance floor in June 2008. Later that year, in November, a Cincinnati police sergeant had to defend his life by shooting a suspect who was fleeing officers after they spotted him firing a gun in the club's parking lot, The Enquirer reported.

In 2008 and 2009, Cincinnati police were "experiencing many problems with the club during their Sunday Night Dances," Dohoney's memo states.

"Assaults, shots fired, traffic congestion due to cruising, etc. were common on these Sundays," his memo reads. "On January 3, 2009, Annie’s applied for a dance hall license from the City of Cincinnati. The City denied the Annie’s dance hall license at the recommendation of the Cincinnati Police Department.

"On March 20, 2009, Annie’s filed suit against the City for injunctive relief and on March 30, 2009, an administrative appeal. The parties negotiated in good faith over the settlement of the City’s denial of the dance hall license and Annie’s subsequent suits.

"The City and Annie’s entered into an Agreement dated April 30, 2009, in which Annie’s agreed to specific security requirements.

"Among those were:

"Annie’s agreed to have six Cincinnati police officers on detail duty from 11:30 p.m. Sunday night to 3:00 a.m. Monday mornings and two detail cruisers from 1:00 a.m. to 4:00 a.m. Monday mornings on the Sunday nights it holds dances, for a total of 8 detail officers.

"Annie’s agreed to enhance their security by using metal detector wands along with body pat downs of all patrons entering Annie’s.

"Twenty-one year old and older patrons at Sunday Night Dances
"In return for compliance with the terms of this Agreement, the City agreed to issue Annie’s a dance hall license," the memo states. "Annie’s agreed to dismiss its cases. It should be noted that a double homicide occurred outside the nightclub approximately three months after this agreement was signed."

By Jennifer Baker, Fox 19 

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