An attorney representing the Vegas-style Club Neo says Pleasanton police officers refused to help break up a fight that led to a 23-year-old Fremont man Sunday morning.
"They stood there and watched," said George Mull, a Sacramento-based attorney representing the club.
A brawl broke out inside the Hopyard Road club around 1:20 a.m. when there were hundreds of people inside, according to police. Mull says there were 29 bouncers — many more than required — helping to pull apart the melee and usher people out of the club. The fight, however, continued outside.
Mull says the music was off, the lights were on and security guards, trying to get a handle on the situation, motioned to Pleasanton officers to help. He said that around the 2 a.m. closing time, it's not unusual to see one or two Pleasanton police cars in the lot monitoring the outflow of people.
But during the brawl on that night, Mull said, "our security gestured to the Pleasanton officers in the lot to come help and they stood there and watched."
Lt. Jim Knox of the said officers were there and did help. He said because of the large capacity of the club — around 450 people were inside and the fight involved many people — officers requested back-up.
Mull said the club is a "destination" hot spot that caters to affluent out-of-towners between 30 and 50 years old. He implied that many of the patrons are black.
Pleasanton officers, he said, wouldn't go "near a black person."
"I'm not even going to comment on that," said Knox.
Mull said eventually deputies from the Dublin Police Department arrived and "did participate in breaking up the fights."
He also said club owners heard someone was shot in the leg, but "all we have heard are rumors. We don't even know if there was a shooting."
Police issued a press statement around 7 a.m. Sunday morning saying there was, in fact, a shooting. Someone had shot a 23-year-old man in the leg about 10 minutes after people came spilling out of the club, according to the statement.
The man was taken to Eden Medical Center in Castro Valley by ambulance, and according police, his wounds were not life threatening.
Knox said he could not comment on the status of the victim because the investigation is ongoing. Police have not yet arrested anyone connected to the incident. But he did confirm again there was a shooting.
Police say there were 450 people inside the club. Mull says there were more like 350. Maximum capacity is 800, according to Mull. Knox said that on any given weekend, there could be anywhere from 400 to 600 people inside.
"We have had some issues prior to this event such as yelling in the parking lot, but nothing out of control," Mull said.
"Unfortunately, the shooting happened out near a car and we can't control that. Things happen all over the place and you can't reasonably account for all of the things happening outside of the establishment."
Mull said that in addition to the 29 guards on duty, there is a camera system in place along with a strict dress code. The crew also does pat-down searches as people enter, Mull said. He said security staff is all over the place, including parking lots, all night.
He said no one at the club called 911 that night when the fights started because there are always officers there at closing time.
Knox said the Pleasanton department often has officers patroling the parking lots of any establishment, club or bar around closing time.
"We encourage officers to work with these places. It's not uncommon to see them walking through the club," he said.
Mull said the club's relationship with the police department had been good and owners had recently gotten feedback that security measures, such as reducing crowd sizes and not allowing known troublemakers inside, were working.
Knox also said the relationship with the club in the past had been good.
"We've been working hand in hand with them as weeks go by and we had officers there that night," he said.
The club, which opened as Neo in October and is only open Friday and Saturday nights, is owned by Randall Weir via a San Jose-based company called Diamond Pleasanton Enterprises, according to public records.
It's in a strip mall space that has been home to upscale bars under several incarnations over the years, including ShBoom, Aura and Status, which boasted Vegas-style bottle service and brought in big name D.J.s and mid-level celebrities, including Mike "The Situation" Sorrentino from "Jersey Shore."
Police said that after the shooting, officers interviewed bouncers and witnesses in the area but had not identified a suspect.
According to city planning records, the city asked the club to have security cameras and to search customers coming inside as a precaution. The club responded saying, "We do not anticipate (problems) with the crowd we are catering to, but it is just a precaution."
Based on the agreement with the city, at least six security guards should have been on duty Saturday night given the number of people inside. Mull says security was more than quadruple the minumum requirement.
Pleasanton City Councilman Jerry Thorne said there hasn't been any discussion about the incident at the city level, but he did say there could be one in the near future.
"We probably need to take a look and make sure they're complying with the use permit," he said. "And then we need to make a determination about whether we want to continue to have this in our city."