Emily Welker, Published September 19 2013
Cass prosecutor declines to charge bouncer in strip club deathFARGO – Prosecutors have declined to file criminal charges in the death of a man following a dustup with a bouncer outside a strip club here in April.
Cass County prosecutor Ryan Younggren explained his decision in a letter Thursday, writing that the evidence supports the self-defense claim made by the bouncer at The Northern Gentleman’s Club, including police reports, video evidence and witness testimony.
Younggren’s letter states that Christopher Barr, the 38-year-old man who hit his head in the April 13 altercation with the bouncer and died three weeks later, had been kicked out of the bar the night of the incident for not paying his bill.
Barr later returned to the strip club and came after bouncer Joseph Eichelberger, according to the letter. The bouncer claimed he pushed Barr away, after which Barr fell to the ground and hit his head.
Eichelberger told officers he had grabbed Barr and removed him to the club’s parking lot after Barr refused to leave when asked. He said Barr had left the parking lot and returned repeatedly after being told to wait at a convenience store for a cab.
The bouncer told police he was walking Barr to the convenience store, about 5 or 10 feet behind him, when Barr drew his hand back and moved his body forward as if he was taking a fighting stance.
Police reports describe Eichelberger as being sober and cooperative when questioned.
A video camera which was in position to record the incident was not working, Younggren said in the letter.
Police were summoned to the club at 325 10th St. N. on a medical assistance call, and Barr was taken by ambulance to Sanford Medical Center.
Police have told The Forum that officers did not open an investigation at the time because Barr was uncooperative and unwilling to provide detailed information.
Police reports state that Barr swore at officers when they asked him about his injuries. Police reports also describe Barr’s speech as heavily slurred, which the officers attributed to him being intoxicated.
A police report also states that ambulance workers had laid out a spine-board for Barr, but he wasn’t cooperating enough to allow for its use. Barr was able to get in and out of the ambulance without help, the report states, but was so belligerent he needed to be sedated when he got to the hospital.
Younggren’s letter states neurosurgeon Dr. John Eichmann concluded the injuries Barr sustained are consistent with hitting his head on the ground. They were not immediately apparent, according to Eichmann, because it was an internal brain injury and Barr was intoxicated.
Fargo police opened an investigation May 3, when they were informed Barr’s condition had worsened and he was likely to die. Barr died four days later in the hospital.
A Fargo private investigator hired by Barr’s family members, Michael Lyman, said Thursday that Barr’s father is struggling with the circumstances of his son’s death. Lyman said he didn’t know if the family is still contemplating a civil lawsuit related to the death.
Readers can reach Forum reporter
Emily Welker at (701) 241-5541