State hearing complaint vs. The B.O.B.

6:53 PM, Jan 16, 2014   |    comments
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Greg Gilmore and his attorney at the Liquor Control Commission hearing

GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) -- A hearing held Thursday by the Michigan Liquor Control Commission revealed new details about on-going safety concerns at the B.O.B., where three people have died since 2009.

The downtown Grand Rapids bar, restaurant, and nightclub is charged with serving liquor to 37-year old Kevin O'Brien, who fell to his death last May. His blood-alcohol content was .25.

"Ethanol intoxication will impair a person's coordination, will impair judgment, and physical actions to the environment," said Kent County Medical Examiner Dr. David Stark. He says O'Brien died from head trauma, but alcohol was a contributing factor in his fall.

One witness, Polak Khem, was right behind O'Brien in the stairwell. "To me, it looked like someone having fun, but making a bad judgment." He says O'Brien tried to slide down the railing. "As I'm headed to go down, he just hopped on the rail and slid down. I said, what just happened? I see him fall over and he reached out. I couldn't do anything, it was too late," recalled Khem.

The Michigan Liquor Control Commission is charging the B.O.B. with three counts in connection to the death: sales to an intoxicated person, allowing an intoxicated person to consume, and allowing him to loiter.

Grand Rapids Vice Detective Jim Watson was in charge of investigating the possible violations. He says the B.O.B. has had problems with over-serving in the past. "In reviewing the incident as a whole, there were statements in there that he (O'Brien) was drinking and visibly intoxicated."

In the B.O.B.'s defense, owner Greg Gilmore and his attorney argued that O'Brien was not visibly intoxicated and questioned what other drugs were in his system. Trace amounts of cocaine were found, but Dr. Stark says it was not enough to be a factor in his death. Gilmore's attorney also pointed to the fact that O'Brien had been to several bars before coming to the B.O.B.

The B.O.B. has made several changes since the most recent death: it has enclosed the stairwell where two of the fatalities occurred. The company has also installed security cameras and trained its servers to better recognize the signs of intoxication.

The Michigan Liquor Control Commission Commissioner, Ed Clemente, has 45 days to make a decision on the charges. The B.O.B. could be fined or have its liquor license suspended or revoked.

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