Beer board members dismissed two violations against downtown club and bar Coyote Jacks after lengthy discussion Thursday.
A complaint about loud music prompted Chattanooga Police officers to respond to the Cowart Street establishment at about 5:30 a.m. on Dec. 30, 2017, according to testimony from Officer Edward Buckman.
Officers said they weren’t allowed into the establishment in a prompt manner, and Buckman testified that some of the employees there appeared intoxicated, both of which would constitute beer board violations.
But the lawyer representing the establishment Russell King argued there was no evidence that anyone had been drinking and said that taking a minute to open a door early in the morning isn’t excessive.
The board dismissed the charges because of lack of evidence, but two board members voted against letting the violations go because they said it didn’t feel like they had the whole story.
“What bothers me is something is not right,” board member Trevor Atchley said.
Employees, owner found in private room
When officers arrived, the music was so loud “we could feel vibrations coming out of the building,” Buckman said.
One of Coyote Jacks employees disputed that it was as loud as officers said.
The officers shined flashlights inside, where three male employees were. Buckman said the men took time to talk and separate before coming to the door.
Those employees said they couldn’t see who was outside and were following protocol by having one person go get the manager while the other went to turn down the music.
Some board members said it didn’t seem unusual to take a minute to figure out the best way to answer the door, considering it was early in the morning and there have been issues, such as shootings, at the establishment.
But Buckman maintained that they did not allow “prompt access.”
He also said that one of the men initially said they were having a birthday for the owner *Tammie Taylor but then changed stories and said they were working and testing sound equipment that had been delivered at about 3 a.m. City Attorney Keith Reisman did confirm that Taylor’s birthday is Dec. 30.
“The deceitfulness, the lies, the changing of stories—it was overwhelming…” Buckman said. “For the minor infraction [of playing loud music] there was so much deceitfulness…I thought there was something much greater being hidden.”
Although one employee told officers there was no one else in the building, police eventually found a group of people, including Taylor, locked in a small private office.
Police said it appeared the group was hiding, but Coyote Jacks employees said they were working.
Board chairman Ron Smith, who eventually voted to dismiss the violation, said the situation did seem dishonest.
“I do see a lot of deceit; that kind of bothers me,” he said. “Why would you be hiding out in a little, almost closet-sized room?”
“It’s a tough one.”
Board member Jackie Thomas motioned to dismiss both violations.
“I don’t think there was any evidence that the employees were drinking, and I also don’t think it was an unreasonable amount of time [for them to come to the door],” she said.
Board member Christopher Keene agreed and said the video members watched didn’t show evidence that anyone had been drinking and he said that anyone would take a minute to open the door at such an early hour.
Member Dan Mayfield noted the conflicting testimonies of the officer and the employees.
“It’s a tough one,” he said.
Ultimately the board voted to dismiss the charges in a 5-2 vote.
*Board members referred the owner as Tammie Taylor, and that’s the name she’s given to Nooga.com in the past, but the identification she gave to officers said her last name was Anthony. King explained that she’s gone by both names, but was most recently married with the name Anthony.