KENNEWICK, Wash. - A four day trial wrapped up Thursday with a guilty verdict for Jack Didley's general manager Matthew Hibbard. He was found guilty of third degree aggravated assault and now will spend some time in jail.
Prosecutor Andy Miller said that guilty verdict will likely change the conduct standards for security personnel at bars and nightclubs.
"The state's claim is that he's not a monster. But he's not being charged with being a monster," Miller said during closing arguments.
The victim in the Hibbard trial was Ben Ensign. He was dropped onto the sidewalk outside the bar and suffered brain damage. His family said he'll never be able to live independently again.
"Justice has to be done and they need to get laws in place to prevent this from happening again," said Ben's mother, Sheila Barichello.
"I think the message went out. I think a lot of bouncers or security personnel may have thought that conduct would be appropriate or at least may have questions but here the jury sent a clear message that is criminal negligence," Miller said.
While several local bars refused to talk about this issue, the Branding Iron said their security personnel are well trained in avoiding physical confrontation.
"There have been incidents where we had to escort, but no force. I just don't believe in bodily contact. It's not necessary," said Lorna Davis of The Branding Iron.
Which begs the question what is necessary force.
"That is a challenge right here and right on the borderline. We're always going to give somebody accused of a crime the benefit of the doubt. We think in this case it was well over the line and I think its just common sense. Dropping somebody's head from the distance of five feet is clearly outside people's common sense. Most people wouldn't do that," Miller said.
Miller also said he thinks some night clubs and bars may begin to do more training and establish written procedures for bouncers or doormen. He hopes more bar owner let their employees know they will be held criminally accountable for their actions.
Tuesday, March 11 2014 2:36 AM EDT2014-03-11 06:36:47 GMT
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