By John L. Smith
A Minxx topless cabaret bouncer places Adam "Pacman" Jones in the middle of the violent melee Feb. 19 that resulted in the shooting of a club security guard, but fails to say the troubled NFL player made a death threat, according to his statement to police.
While the statement of bouncer Henry Jenkins would appear to help Jones' defense as he battles two felony coercion counts, it also raises the issue of whether the NFL player has fully cooperated in the investigation. A bullet fired outside the club that night paralyzed bouncer Tom Urbanski from the waist down.
Club bouncer Aaron Cudworth, one of three people shot that night, told detectives Jones made threatening statements to him during the brawl. In his police report, he quoted Jones as saying, "I'm gonna (expletive) kill ya. ... Matter of fact, all you's are gonna get it."
But Jenkins' memory was different. Although he made it clear he felt threatened by Jones, and at one point incorrectly believed the football player was hiding a weapon behind his back, he noted that his co-worker Cudworth wielded a baton-like weapon in an effort to break up the fight.
"And then Aaron's like, 'Don't even,' you know, 'Don't even try to bring that out,'" Jenkins recalled. "'Cause, 'cause see Aaron was pretty close. He goes 'I'll whack you in the knee.'" Although the bouncers implored Jones and his friends to "relax," they failed to quickly break up a series of hair-pulling skirmishes between Minxx dancers and women who had accompanied Jones.
For Jones' defense attorney Robert Langford, the Jenkins statement clearly illustrates his client wasn't acting with coercive intent and shouldn't have been charged with a felony.
"I've never said this is anything other than a bar fight he got caught up in," Langford said. "The fight started and he weighed in to protect his friends. If this were anybody else, we would not be having this conversation because it would have been resolved" as a misdemeanor battery.
The bar fight, as Langford called it, included one report of Jones biting the ankle of a bouncer.
District Attorney David Roger declined to comment on the facts of the case, but expressed confidence that a clear picture would emerge at trial.
"We've never once said he wasn't in the middle of the melee," Langford said. "I'm not saying he's pure as the driven snow in all this. But Jenkins heard him say, 'Stop disrespecting my women.' That's not a death threat. He heard it all. This is their employee's statement to the police the morning after the incident."
The 23-year-old Tennessee Titans cornerback in April was suspended for the 2007 NFL season for conduct detrimental to the league by Commissioner Roger Goodell.
Robert Reid, a 440-pound bodyguard to Jones and various rap artists, was charged with one count of coercion. Sadia Morrison, a 25-year-old member of Jones' entourage, was hit with five felonies, including coercion, battery and assault with a deadly weapon.
It's becoming evident that Jones has the potential to be a key witness in the shooting. That is, if he would agree to cooperate against the alleged shooter, a person known to him, according to witness statements.
Could Jones be granted immunity in exchange for his testimony?
It just might save his foundering NFL career and result in justice being served.
ROAD RAGE: Embattled Desert Inn Road residents, who are fighting the commercialization of their neighborhood, are gearing for a showdown at the County Commission on Wednesday. Aren't they in Erin Kenny's old district?
ON THE BOULEVARD: Now that a new offer is on the table for the embattled Crazy Horse Too topless cabaret, "Buffalo Jim" Barrier's $1 million lien on the place appears more problematic than ever. Attorneys for incarcerated club owner Rick Rizzolo are redoubling their efforts to have that lien lifted.
• John L. Smith's column, reprinted from the Las Vegas Review-Journal, appears on Thursdays on the Appeal's Opinion page. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (702) 383-0295.