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Oklahoma City police characterize fatal beating in Bricktown as tragic anomaly

Oklahoma City Police Department assault records show fights occur in Bricktown's bars and clubs. Daniel Maxedon, 25, was beaten by a group of men after closing time Nov. 27 outside of Rok Bar, 119 E California Ave. He died of his injuries March 6 in Colorado Springs, Colo., his hometown.
by Juliana Keeping Published: March 26, 2012
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The club provided video from outside its door to detectives, she said.

Police have no descriptions of the attackers except that they were thought to be Hispanic.

A lawyer for the club, Tom Corbin, said the Rok Bar is owned by In Cahoots Saloon LLC.

Corbin said the area out front is where crowds leaving several clubs in the area converge, including Coyote Ugly, Hooters and Skyy Bar.

Club operators take measures to keep club-goers safe, Corbin said, like barring troublemakers from coming back.

The former head of security for Rok Bar has a different story.

Dave Johnson led the security staff at the club for almost four years. Groups of people routinely were allowed back by managers and owners against his recommendation, he said. Those individuals typically were customers who tipped well, brought in other customers or were friends of owners or managers, he said.

Johnson said these groups were respectful to the security staff inside the club. Things changed outside its doors.

“The second they step outside, they try to kill these people,” he said. “It's over nothing.”

The police reports don't reflect all the violence connected to the bar, he said.

Johnson said he knows of at least one instance when a group that had been at the club followed other patrons to a parking lot and knocked one person out. The bar routinely packed in customers over capacity on weekends, he said.

The final straw came a few weeks before Maxedon's beating, Johnson said, when he was asked to slash his hours and lay off staff due to cuts to the security budget. Instead, he quit.

Police on patrol

Police do not consider Rok Bar a problem venue. Bricktown is safe with a high police presence for such a small area, said Capt. Don Martin, who runs the Bricktown police substation, which opened in 2007.

“In Bricktown, like any other place, you're going to have isolated incidents that occur that are outside the control of anyone,” he said. “Bricktown is a very safe place, and it's very much family oriented.”

The substation is operating with two fewer patrol officers than in 2008, because of cutbacks since the economic downturn, Martin said. A typical weekend night includes 11 patrol officers and two supervisors on duty, which Martin called “plenty” for the area.

More officers are on duty during big events such as Thunder games or on summer weekends, he said. Officers are highly visible, patrolling by bike, motorcycle, car and foot.

On Nov. 27, the night of Maxedon's beating, 12 officers were on patrol, Martin said.

For Newcomb, the reassurance that the area is safe provides little comfort. She worries her boyfriend's death is being downplayed to uphold the area's reputation.

“The fight should have been stopped,” she said.

“Maybe a cop needs to be assigned to Rok Bar,” she said. “These were innocent people that just got jumped.”

“They (police) were right around the corner,” Martin said, and they arrived quickly.

“It would have been very nice to have somebody standing there, but the unfortunate thing is we don't know when fights are going to break out or where they will happen,” he said.

Jeannette Smith, the executive director of the Bricktown Association, said the group takes extra measures to keep the area safe. For instance, it hires off-duty police officers to beef up patrols during special events, such as the St. Patrick's Day Parade.

The association strives to be proactive about public safety, she said. It has special meetings for nightclub owners and managers to discuss issues such as not serving customers too much alcohol. Rok Bar “sometimes” sends representatives, she said.

NewsOK.com has disabled the comments for this article.
by Juliana Keeping
Enterprise Reporter
Juliana Keeping is on the enterprise reporting team for The Oklahoman and NewsOK.com. Keeping joined the staff of The Oklahoman in 2012. Prior to that time, she worked in the Chicago media at the SouthtownStar, winning a Peter Lisagor Award...
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