The Boston Licensing Board today held its third hearing in less than a month on two incidents at Savvor Restaurant and Lounge at which patrons took out their anger at other people by stabbing them.
In both cases, the Lincoln Street restaurant says it's not to blame: Sure, the arguments that led to the stabbings may have started inside, but in one case, the actual stabbing happened across the street, while the second was completely unforeseeable and just because video maybe shows the two suspects being kind of chummy with the owner doesn't mean he could have known they'd stab an off-duty bouncer minutes later.
And besides, bar staffers did everything they could to help the bouncer - even summoning somebody with a car to rush him to the hospital for treatment of his chest, hand and leg wounds so that he wouldn't bleed out waiting for an ambulance, attorney Bill Kelley said today.
Last week, the licensing board gave Savvor a warning for a Nov. 22 incident in which one patron stabbed another across Lincoln Street after both had been kicked out of the restaurant for fighting. That goes into Savvor's folder and could mean a higher penalty - such as a temporary license suspension - if the board finds another violation.
At a hearing last week on that incident, Boston Police officers testified a man got into an argument with a woman inside the restaurant. Restaurant workers escorted both the man and the woman and her squad outside - where they began arguing again, only this time the man got knocked to the ground and, while he was lying there, the woman stabbed him.
Police said the restaurant should not have sent both sides out at the same time - typically, establishments send one party out, then wait a few minutes and escort the second out, to avoid fights flaring up again. And they say the restaurant did not preserve video it had of the incident.
But Kelley said the restaurant did everything right - by breaking up the fight inside and then escorting the parties outside. It's unfortunate the guy got stabbed, but it happened "across a public way, on a public sidewalk," he said. He did not answer a police sergeant's assertion he told workers to make a copy of the video, saying instead that owner Eddy Firmin didn't get a request from police until well after the recorder had written over the video.
A hearing today on a Jan. 16 incident involving an off-duty bouncer who'd stopped by to see how things were going was a sort of continuance of a hearing last month at which police and the bouncer testified even though nobody from Savvor attended because of a scheduling mixup.
The bouncer repeated his story of how he got stabbed: He was standing outside a little used door smoking a cigarette when the door opened and two guys tried to come out with drinks and he took the drinks and told them they could come back for them because he knows it's against the law to let customers take drinks outside. He said when one guy then reached for his drink, he pushed the guy out - and then the guy behind him pulled him into the club and held his arm while the first guy stabbed him repeatedly.
As he had previously testified, the bouncer said he didn't realize at first he'd been stabbed - he thought he'd been punched - until he ran after the two. "That's when I noticed I couldn't breathe," and looked down and saw blood, he testified.
Treating the usually laid-back licensing-board hearing room as a criminal courtroom, Kelley tried repeatedly to trip the bouncer up, loudly demanding he answer questions yes or no. At one point Kelley asked if it weren't true the bouncer was contradicting himself and police when he said he'd been stabbed inside when the testimony was that he'd been stabbed outside.
The bouncer retorted he never said that - he said he'd been standing outside, but then was pulled inside and stabbed there.
After board Chairwoman Christine Pulgini admonished him for rough questioning of the bouncer when the man didn't have his own attorney present, Kelley apologized. He stopped pursuing the question of where, exactly, the bouncer was stabbed, and said in the end what is more important is that, given that police still do not have any suspects even close to being arrested, Firmin's staffers "responded entirely appropriately" that night to "an unprovoked, unforseeable felonious assault."
The bouncer, Kelley said, didn't seek help until after the stabbing, so there was no way for on-duty staffers to know something was going wrong. And once they were informed, he continued, they didn't just call police, "they did substantially much more," such as getting a car to get the bouncer to the hospital. "Their conduct was approprate and compliant with all of their legal obligations," he said.
BPD Det. Vicent DiFazio, however, said Firmin could be doing substantially much more to help him find the two men. DiFazio said Firmin did supply some video, which showed him apparently being pretty friendly with the two men; and the bouncer said he recognized the two as people who'd been to Savvor before.
But, DiFazio continued, despite repeated attempts to contact him, Firmin has refused to talk to him about that night, let alone supply any possible leads to the identity of the two suspects - for whom, he said, he now has a couple of street names, but not much else to go on.
The board decides Thursday what action, if any, to take on the bouncer stabbing.