Charges were dismissed against Coyote Jacks Saloon, 1401 Cowart St., at the meeting of the Chattanooga Beer Board at the Thursday morning. The bar was charged with denying prompt access to police officers and of employees drinking while on the premises. Both are in violation of the city’s beer code.
The incident stemmed from a call which dispatched Chattanooga Police Officer Edward Buchman to the bar in response to a noise complaint at 5:30 a.m. Dec. 30. After going to a second door where there was a direct line of sight to three men at a table, the police got their attention by shining flashlights through the glass door.
The music was too loud for them to expect to be heard, said Officer Buchman . The men glanced over to the door and two of them got up and went upstairs, the third let police in after nearly a minute delay. Joshua Marsee, assistant general manager, who opened the door, said that they were having a birthday party for the owner, Tammy Anthony. He also told the officers that no one else should be left in the building at that time. He later said the people who were still in the building were apparently discussing what they would do the next day, which was New Years Eve.
Eventually a fourth man came downstairs, Timothy Weaver, who is the marketing director and assistant to the owner. He said it was protocol for employees to get the general manager if anything out of the ordinary happened after the bar was closed and locked. That is why somebody went upstairs after police arrived.
He told police that new speakers had been delivered at 3 a.m. and he had made multiple trips upstairs and down to make adjustments while setting up and testing the sound system. That loud music prompted the noise complaint. He said that no employees that night had been drinking and the bar was clean with no glasses out and was ready to go for the next day when police arrived. He, too, said he was unaware that other people were still in the building.
Police interpreted what was going on in the building that morning another way. Officer Buchman said the man who came to the door had a strong smell of alcohol on his breath and exhibited other signs of being intoxicated. When police were standing in the entry, they heard more people upstairs, despite being told no one else was there. The officers went upstairs and located five other people crammed in and locked inside a small 10 foot by five foot office. The door was not opened when they first tried to enter, but after knocking, it was unlocked.
There were security video monitors both in that office and downstairs so the people inside all knew police were on the scene, said Officer Buchman. Those people later claimed they did not know who was at the door and, because of the history of the location, they kept the door locked. Everyone in that office was escorted downstairs, had IDs checked and answered questions. When Officer Buchman went back to the office to find Ms. Anthony’s ID, he said the room smelled of marijuana, although a search was not conducted and none was found. He told the board members that at that point he was not doing a bar check, but was looking for bodies to figure out who was there.
For what started as a minor noise violation, said Officer Buchman, there were so many changes of stories and "so much deceitfulness, it was overwhelming."
Board Member Trevor Atchley said he found it hard to believe that Mr. Weaver had been upstairs multiple times in the past two and a half hours and did not know that many people were still upstairs. He said that police can tell if someone has been drinking. He also cited the smell of marijuana that was observed. "Something’s not right," he said. "I see deceit," said Chairman of the Board Ron Smith. "Why were they hiding in that small room?" he added. "On the video screens, they could see that police were at the door—it’s tough," said board member Dan Mayfield.
Despite Officer Buchman having seven years of experience handling hundreds of intoxication cases and his long experience with intoxication, some of the board members said there was no proof in the form of a breathalyzer or physical testing that could be used for verification that the employees had consumed alcohol while at work. The bar had been cleaned up and no bottles were on the tables when police arrived, and the people were perceived to be cooperative.
Board member Jackie Thomas said, ‘I’m basing my decision on the two charges." The motion to dismiss passed on a vote of five for and Mr. Atchley and Christopher Keene voting against the dismissal.
The beer board issued permits to several new and existing businesses in Chattanooga. Aramark Educational Services was approved for both a consumer and caterer beer licenses for University Center, 642 E. Fifth Street. The caterer license will be used for faculty functions held by the university, and the consumer license will be used to offer beer and wine at arena events where there will be one booth and a designated seating area where beer will be consumed. William Walker told the board that beer and wine will be locked in a cage and no students will have a key or access.
A carryout beer license was given to a new Speedway convenience store at 4355 Hwy. 58. It is a food, fuel, retail and carry-out beer business.
Three special events were also approved to serve beer. Another Gorgeous Evening, a benefit for the Tennessee River Gorge Trust, Inc. will take place at The Tennessee Riverplace, 3104 Scenic Waters Lane. It will take place May 10 from 5:30-10 p.m. Money raised will be used to protect the river gorge. The event is "cocktail casual," and tickets are $125 per person.
Chattabrewga , which benefits the Tennessee Breast Cancer Coalition, will be held for the sixth year at Finley Stadium on May 12 from 11a.m.–5 p.m. There will be breweries for sampling, food trucks and a DJ for entertainment.
The 2018 American Dream Concert will be held April 27 at Engel Stadium from 4:30-10:30 p.m. This event will benefit the UTC veteran’s entrepreneur program of the business school at UTC. The goal is for veterans to come out of the program being able to run a business. Four bands will be featured: Roger Alan Wade, Overland Express, Jimmy Tawater and The Power Players. Tickets are $20 for the concert. The organizer, Friends of the Festival was approved for a beer permit for the event.