Beer Board Tries To Solve Mystery Of Whether Intoxicated Man In Wreck Was Employee At Doc Holiday's

Thursday, January 23, 2020 - by Gail Perry

The owner of Doc Holiday’s, 724 Ashland Terrace, appeared before the Chattanooga Beer Board for a second time in two months on Thursday morning, for the violation of an employee consuming alcohol on the premises at work.  


Evidence in the form of body camera recording and testimony from Chattanooga Police Officer Joseph Beloz showed police responding to a traffic accident at the intersection of Hixson Pike and North Access Road at 5-5:30 a.m.

on Dec. 15, 2019. The car had hit a curb and spun around. It was at a stop, facing south in a northbound lane, with the driver’s side airbag deployed and damage to the car. Where the man had been from 3 a.m. when the bar was supposed to close, and 5:30, when he wrecked, is unknown.


The driver told officers multiple times that he had just left Doc Holiday’s where he worked. He also admitted to having had several shots of alcohol and, despite damage to his vehicle, told police that he had not had a wreck, only that the air bag had spontaneously hit him in the face.  A breathalyzer and blood alcohol test were done but results are still pending. He failed the roadside sobriety test and was arrested for DUI.  


Confusion caused by possible inaccurate documentation complicated the case. The owner of the bar, Raulston Lamar Combs, told the board that the driver had been fired on Nov. 11, 2019 and had not worked for him since that time. The termination agreement, however, was dated Dec. 27, after the traffic incident. Mr. Combs said that was a “typo.” He told the board that after being fired, the man went to work as a cook at Rumors, a nearby bar. Both of these bars are within one mile of the wreck location. The date of his termination and current employment could not be confirmed because the man did not claim unemployment when he was let go, and paperwork was said to be wrong.  


Also casting doubt that he no longer was employed by Doc Holiday’s was the fact that Mr. Combs told the board he had fired the bartender involved in the violation from November. She, however had been rehired after that beer board hearing and is still working for him.


Board members also speculated that the driver could be vindictive against Doc Holiday’s or was spiteful and trying to protect his new job at Rumors. Board member Trevor Atchley said it was plausible to think that the driver’s recollection may not have been accurate because he had just had a wreck. There was no dispute that he was intoxicated.


The motion to dismiss the case was approved on a vote of five to two, partially based on the testimony under oath from the bar’s owner that the driver of the wrecked car had been fired before the night of the incident. Mr. Combs told the beer board that his business is now up for sale.


A second violation against Southside Social has been postponed by request from the bar’s attorney. The Dec. 19 board meeting for two violations against the business resulted in a penalty of a five-day suspension for sales to an incapacitated person and a dismissal for the case of an employee drinking on the premises. The newest violation is for closing a street without a permit from the city. This violation will be heard at the next beer board meeting on Feb. 6.


The application for a special event permit for “Dresses & Blazers,” was also postponed until Feb. 6. The applicants were unaware of requirements for special events and were confused about how to go about holding a special event. They had also submitted wrong information on the application to the beer board, complicating the process.


Andre Edwards was asking for the permit for a party at Chatty’s Restaurant, 2301 Milne St., for four days from Feb. 14 and 28 and March 6 and 13. The event was to be held inside the privately owned restaurant and in a tent outside. Information put on the application identified the site as public property. For the beer board to approve a special event permit on public property, it must be raising funds for a charitable organization said Assistant City Attorney Melinda Foster. Plus, there was no written documentation for an agreement with the restaurant’s owner to allow the event.


After co-owners of Chatty’s arrived and consulted with the applicant, the board was told that the event was to raise money to give to The Woodmore Foundation, however the organizers would be taking “a piece of the pie.” The applicant said he did not know what Woodmore Foundation is. Damon Brown then told the board that she has organized other benefits for the community said those events are “heavy on our pockets,” and this would be trying to put something back in them.


“The Woodmore Foundation is not registered with the state in any way," said Attorney Foster. This does not qualify as a special event and the board cannot approve it. If the event is held on private property, the charity requirement can be removed, they were told. The attorney will make the recommendation whether it will qualify or not.


Another way to hold an event such as this would be to hire a caterer with an ABC license to handle the alcohol sales. The caterer would also need to come to the beer board meeting and be part of the application process, they were told. The caterer then would have the responsibility for licensing, security and insurance.


Also, the location is in a C-2 zone that requires a special permit from the Chattanooga City Council to stay open past midnight. The application requested a beer license from 8 p.m. until 3 a.m.


Board member  told the applicants there were too many uncertainties to issue a license, until more details are known. The application will be heard at the Feb. 6 meeting.


One new beer license was approved Thursday morning. Jayendra Chaudhari was given a carry-out permit for Citgo Mart, 1135 E. 3rd St. To keep the business in the family, Mr. Chaudhari is buying it from an uncle who is retiring. He also owns Ria’s downtown and is familiar with problems inherent with convenience stores, he told the board.

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