Saturday, February 24, 2018
News Roundup

Battery charge dropped against St. Pete bar manager who tossed out drunk patron

ST. PETERSBURG — Prosecutors have abandoned a criminal case against a local bartender who was arrested this summer after an intoxicated patron fell and cracked his head as the manager was tossing him out.

But Blake Ambrester's bosses at Suite Six Bar & Lounge may still be on the hook for the June 30 incident at the downtown club — a civil lawsuit remains pending.

Officers were called to the club, at 265 Central Ave., just before last call. They found 39-year-old Jeremy Fisher, of Miami, face down and unconscious on the sidewalk.

Ambrester, 24, told police he tossed Fisher out of the bar after a female employee complained about being uncomfortable and feeling threatened. Ambrester said Fisher refused to leave when asked and became "physically resistant," police said.

The bar manager hauled him outside. As he did, police said, Fisher passed out and fell face first when Ambrester released him. Ambrester then flagged down an officer for help.

Fisher had severe head and neck injuries that required surgery. Ambrester was arrested a couple days later and charged with aggravated battery.

"He was in a coma for approximately a week," said Miami lawyer Darren Rousso, who is representing Fisher and his wife in the civil suit, filed in early July.

In fact, police said, it was the severity of Fisher's injuries that prompted them to charge Ambrester.

However, authorities at the Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney's Office decided this month that wasn't enough.

"Basically we talked to both sides and made the determination it wasn't prosecutable," said assistant state attorney Richard Ripplinger. "Apparently the way (Fisher) fell was more his fault than the accused."

St. Petersburg lawyer Rohom Khonsari, who represented Ambrester in the criminal case and is a consulting attorney in the civil suit, said he is pleased prosecutors "looked at the whole story and didn't overreact to the injuries alone."

Rousso said he doesn't think prosecutors' conclusion will hurt the civil lawsuit, which asks for damages of more than $15,000.

The lawsuit claims that the club and its owners were negligent and did not maintain a safe establishment. It also says the club allowed "dangerous and/or violent agents" — meaning Ambrester —to work there and should have protected Fisher from foreseeable harm because of that.

Records from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement show Ambrester pleaded no contest to felony battery charges in a 2008 case from Tallahassee. He served jail time for the same offense in another case.

At least one of the cases, officials said, involved Ambrester hitting someone at a bar.

"It's a viable claim," Rousso said. "We believe that the evidence is going to show that Mr. Ambrester engaged in a practice which rose to the level of negligence."

Khonsari disagreed. He said he was surprised by how quickly the lawsuit was filed.

"Mr. Ambrester did absolutely nothing wrong given the circumstances," Khonsari said. "Ambrester did his job that night … and nothing about his prior incidents would have changed how he acted."

Kameel Stanley can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8643.

Comments
Police: Man, 60, arrested for fleeing from fatal Largo pedestrian crash

Police: Man, 60, arrested for fleeing from fatal Largo pedestrian crash

LARGO — A 60-year-old man who police said was the driver in a fatal pedestrian hit-and-run on East Bay Drive from three days prior was arrested by Largo Police on Saturday, the department said.Victor Bonavita was arrested on three charges in relation...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Sheriff: Roads reopen after Tampa crash results in natural gas leak near Citrus Park Mall

Sheriff: Roads reopen after Tampa crash results in natural gas leak near Citrus Park Mall

TAMPA — Officials reopened roads near Citrus Park Mall Saturday evening that had been closed in the afternoon for a natural gas leak caused by a car crash, the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office said. The Sheriff’s Office and Hillsborough County Fi...
Updated: 3 hours ago

boca ratonState lawmakerencourages Scott to remove sheriffA lawmaker is calling on Florida Gov. Rick Scott to remove Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel from office after the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. In a letter sent to ...
Updated: 4 hours ago

Two airlinescut ties withNRA aftershootings

The National Rifle Association lashed out at corporations rushing to abandon it on Saturday, as companies from United Airlines to Best Western have cut ties with the gun lobby organization.Without context, twin announcements from Delta and United air...
Updated: 4 hours ago

‘Up to States’ to armteachers, Trump tweets

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump appeared Saturday to begin refining his proposals for combatting school violence, tweeting that arming teachers as a deterrent against such often deadly violence — an idea he championed in recent days — is "Up to S...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Security Council demands30-day cease-fire in Syria

Security Council demands30-day cease-fire in Syria

UNITED NATIONS — The U.N. Security Council unanimously approved a resolution Saturday demanding a 30-day cease-fire across Syria "without delay" to deliver humanitarian aid to millions and evacuate the critically ill and wounded. U.N. humanitarian ch...
Updated: 4 hours ago

Updated: 5 hours ago
Call her more than just a survivor

Call her more than just a survivor

TAMPA — On the quiet morning of Oct. 8, 2011, a 30-ton freight truck ran a stop sign in the small town of Clinton, Conn.It ran over Colleen Kelly Alexander, who was riding a bicycle.The truck's front wheels crushed her, then spit her to the bac...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Police: Male motorcyclist crashed, then the driver was run over by two cars

Police: Male motorcyclist crashed, then the driver was run over by two cars

TAMPA — A male motorcyclist died early Saturday morning on the Courtney Campbell Causeway, the Tampa Police Department said.About 1:35 a.m., the victim rode his motorcycle west on the Courtney Campbell at high speeds, police said. The motorcycle stru...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Northeast High alumnus Jon Mott wins 3rd Gasparilla 15K crown

Northeast High alumnus Jon Mott wins 3rd Gasparilla 15K crown

TAMPA — Roughly 20 minutes into Saturday morning's Publix Gasparilla Distance Classic 15K, reigning champ A.J. Richmond glanced over his left shoulder to former college teammate Jon Mott and flashed a quick hand signal."He was telling me that t...
Updated: 9 hours ago