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Rumrunner’s excessive force trial begins

By KTVA Alaska 8:00 PM January 13, 2014

Opening arguments were heard and the first witness took the stand.

ANCHORAGE - A troubled local bar shut its doors more than a year ago, but its employees and owners are now being asked to answer for past actions.

The State vs. Rumrunner’s security guard Murville Lampkin and owners AB&M trial is more than two years in the making. It began Monday morning in an Anchorage courthouse within walking distance of the now-shuttered bar.

The trial surrounds the alleged brutal beating of Johnny Brown by Rumrunner’s Old Towne Bar and Grill security in October 2011.

Brown admits he had too much to drink on the night of Oct. 23 and he also admits to striking the security guard now on trial for the beating. However, he said, the response of Rumrunner’s staff was uncalled for and excessive

“They wouldn’t stop hitting me until I agreed not to press charges,” Brown said in an interview with KTVA just after the alleged incident took place.

Attorneys for defendants Murville Lampkin, the security guard charged with beating Brown, and Rumrunner’s owners AB&M sat on one side of the courtroom, while the prosecution sat on the other. Both were just a few feet in front of Brown, who sat listening intently.

The first witness in the case, former Rumrunner’s bouncer Ian Lamp took the stand.

“I noticed there was road rash on the side of his face,” Lamp testified. “I noticed he had some dirt on the side on his face and I noticed he had a cut underneath his eye and there was blood coming out of it, but it wasn’t like pouring out.”

Those wounds Lamp was referring to include multiple facial fractures, skull fractures and a broken orbital, according to Brown, who said they have mostly healed up since the night of the alleged beating more than two years ago.

Now, Brown said, he just wants closure.

“It’s almost been three years now, so it’s good to finally get it going and see an end result to all of this,” Brown said.

Once the criminal trial concludes, Brown said, his civil case against Rumrunner’s will begin. He said he hopes his case will send a message to local bars and restaurants, who according to Lamp, offer little to no training on how to handle rowdy patrons in situations like the night of Brown’s alleged beating.

“There isn’t any training program for set up by the state or anybody else for doormen and security to be trained on how to do things in a specific way and what is legal and what is not,” Lamp said.

Brown said he hopes his trial will change that, especially in regard to the use and abuse of excessive force.

“Hopefully we can put a stop to any of this happening in the future and maybe killing somebody and just taking it too far,” Brown said. “It feels great to finally stand up and have a go to this point.”

Rumrunner’s Old Towne Bar and Grill closed suddenly just a week before Christmas in 2012 after operating out of its downtown location for several years.

Another bar operated briefly out of the same location.

Now, national restaurant chain Hard Rock Café is slated to open out of the same location later on this year.

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