The manager of a local bar wants criminal charges brought against three GW men’s basketball players for their alleged involvement in an altercation early Friday morning.
Al Chadsey, manager of Lulu’s Club Mardi Gras, said the players were involved in a fight with bar employees after being told to leave. Two of the bar’s bouncers were taken to a hospital and treated for minor injuries after the altercation, Chadsey said.
Employees at the bar said they recognized junior Pops Mensah-Bonsu at the time of the incident, which occurred around 1:30 a.m. They said they later looked at the men’s basketball team Web site and identified to the police sophomores J.R. Pinnock and Carl Elliott as the other two players involved. It is unclear whether other patrons at the bar, a popular Thursday night student hangout located at 22nd and M streets, took part in the melee.
Metropolitan Police officers arrived on the scene, accompanied by ambulances, shortly after but did not make any arrests. After interviewing witnesses and bar employees, officers filed a misdemeanor assault report, said Captain Emmogean Simpson of the department’s third district.
Simpson would not give any more details about the initial report but said it did not include the players’ names. She said MPD officers are still investigating the incident; those involved could be arrested or given citations.
Mensah-Bonsu declined to comment on the allegations; multiple attempts to contact the other two players were unsuccessful. Another player said coaches had told the team not to comment on the situation.
Head coach Karl Hobbs said he was aware that something happened but would not comment further.
“Until I get the full details of what actually happened, I can’t comment,” he said. “I’ve heard one side of the story, now I need to hear the other side and get the full details.” Director of Athletics Jack Kvancz also declined to comment.
Mike Thomas, a GW junior and bouncer at Lulu’s, said the players were involved in an altercation with other patrons, possibly GW students, at which point he and the other bouncers approached the players and told them to leave.
“After the GW team had been in a fight with these other guys, it was time for them to go,” said Thomas, who had a black eye when he spoke to The Hatchet Saturday. “There were about eight to 10 kids in the fight, though you could center the majority of the aggression around three or four of the basketball players, Pops being the one who I definitely know by face.”
“We stepped in to get them towards the door,” Thomas continued. “And as we were getting closer, one of them reached out and tagged me in the eye.”
Lulu’s employees could not say who initiated the altercation or how the situation escalated, but Chadsey said the fight was “totally unprovoked” by his staff.
Sergio Edma, another bar bouncer, needed stitches near his mouth after the melee.
“As I’m talking to (one of the players), somebody swung … and next thing you know, it was just chaos,” Edma said.
“It got to a point where after one of them blindsided one of our guys from across the room when it was dying down, and when he got up, Pops had him by his collar in one hand and me in the other,” Thomas said. “One of our guys was already in a concussion (by that point) … he was delirious, gone.”
Employees at the bar said once the situation calmed down, one employee called the police as players left in a blue Toyota Camry with Georgia license plates.
Antoine Savage, who was working near the bar’s front entrance, said he followed the players across the street to the car while he read the license plate number to the dispatcher.
Junior Gianfranco Finizio, who was standing outside Lulu’s at the time of the altercation, said he saw members of the basketball team enter the bar earlier in the evening but did not see them there when the police arrived.
“What I saw was one of the bouncers wearing a yellow suit bleeding,” Finizio said. “Another had black and blue eyes. I heard them telling the cops, ‘It was the basketball team.'”
Chadsey, the manager, said Thursday was not the first time he has had problems with a member of the basketball team.
“One of the guys started a fight, a verbal thing, with the door guy (the previous week),” he said. “He was literally dragged away by his friends. But he said he’d come back and get him.”
He added, “From what I understand, this kid (Pops) is a nice guy. I’m surprised he did this.”
But Chadsey said he wants the players to be charged with assault, adding that he has gathered witnesses and has been in contact with MPD.
“I think Al (Chadsey) has a pretty good case against them, with people knowing who they are,” Thomas said. “Too bad they’re not the GW underwater basket-weaving team and no one knows who they are. They have faces that people recognize, so it works to their disadvantage.”
-Michael Barnett contributed to this report.