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Emily Welker, Published May 15 2013

Police review video outside strip club in investigation

FARGO – Police are reviewing surveillance video from outside the city’s only strip club after a man there died after being shoved to the ground by an employee of the club, according to court records.

Police are investigating to see if criminal charges are warranted and waiting for the results of an autopsy, while the family of the 38-year-old is considering a possible civil lawsuit and has hired a private investigator, court records claim.

Police say Christopher Barr, 38, had already been kicked out of the Northern Gentleman’s Club once the night of April 13, when officers were called there for medical assistance at 10:51 p.m.

An affidavit for a search warrant filed in Cass County District Court says Officer Chris Redmann arrived at the club to find Barr lying on his back in the south parking lot at 325 10th St. N. Barr, who had blood on his head, told Redmann a bouncer was responsible, police said in the affidavit for the search warrant granted May 3.

Barr was taken by ambulance to Sanford Medical Center, where he died May 7.

Deputy Police Chief Pat Claus said though Barr did blame a bouncer for his injuries, he didn’t provide any specifics and was uncooperative with officers the night of the incident.

A criminal investigation wasn’t opened until May 3, when police were notified Barr was still hospitalized and might die.

Claus said he didn’t fault Redmann for not taking a report immediately, given Barr was not providing helpful information.

“People are usually very anxious to tell police their information” when they’re alleging an assault, he said.

The deputy chief, who oversees investigations for the department, said it was a bit of a gray area – both opening a criminal file right away and not opening one were appropriate options, in his mind.

A Northern employee told Redmann that Barr had been drunk, belligerent and disrespectful to staff members at the club and refused to leave when asked, the affidavit states.

The staffer told police he grabbed Barr and took him to the parking lot, pushing back in self-defense as Barr took a swing at him, knocking him to the ground, according to court records.

Claus confirmed police are reviewing surveillance video from the Northern as part of their investigation and said time was of the essence in getting a search warrant for the video due to the time lag.

“Any video system has a different-size drive – some are days, some are months – so that’s always a potential concern with any video,” because some systems do not archive video for long, he said.

Claus said police are still interviewing witnesses and have not yet determined whether to forward it to the Cass County state’s attorney to review for possible criminal charges. He said detectives haven’t received an initial report yet from the state medical examiner on the cause of death.

Court documents also say that Barr’s family has hired a private investigator with an eye toward possible civil litigation linked to his death.

Private investigator Michael Lyman told The Forum on Wednesday that he has been interviewed by police but was not ready to share information about his own investigation yet.

“Right now I think it’s best left in police hands,” he said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Emily Welker at (701) 241-5541