Broad Street Tap hearing set for Oct. 2

Broad Street Tap hearing set for Oct. 2

CUMBERLAND - The stabbing outside of the Broad Street Tap on March 4 was the third time patrons here had been bloodied or bruised in less than two years.

And the third time that Cumberland police were summoned to intervene.

Bar owner Steven Seagrave has been twice before the Town Council to answer for the first two incidents. He got a "stern warning" on Sept. 7, 2011, and saw charges dismissed on the second, Sept. 5, 2012.

This time around, Councilor Bill Murray said he had hoped to avoid another formal hearing through a series of Saturday morning negotiations with Seagrave and nearby residents.

The town would forgo the hearing if Seagrave would pay for a fence next door, on the neighbor's land, to block residents from the sights and sounds of what Murray describes as the pub's "rough and ready" clientele.

The deal makes sense, he said during last week's meeting, because Seagrave was also moving forward with plans to turn over the bar to two sons who envision a sports bar there, complete with a food menu, and frankly, higher drink prices to discourage the current crowd of drinkers there.

Murray is chairman of Board of License Commissioners, the formal name for the Town Council when it rules on liquor license issues. He had planned to simply update the Town Council members on his plans last Wednesday.

But Council President James Higgins, who unlike freshman Murray was involved in the other two hearings, questioned Murray's plans.

"This is a stabbing," he said. "I definitely think we have to have a hearing. I find it hard to believe, 'Oh it just happened in the parking lot.' This is a serious matter. We have people being stabbed. They have an obligation to cooperate with us. This place has had multiple violations."

And Police Chief John Desmarais, on hand to present his 2013 annual report, was called to the front to weigh in. He told Town Council members he'd expected a public hearing.

"I definitely think this should be brought before you. This is the third incident," he said.

Following the chief's comments, the hearing was set for Oct. 2.

Murray said later he hoped to avoid formal charges because, he said, hearings are expensive for the town. All police officers involved must be paid overtime to attend. Moreover, he's a champion, he says, of small businesses.

Converting this bar to a sports bar is a good outcome for the landlord as well as the business owner, he said.

He said, too, the hearing would likely scuttle the fence agreement.

Cumberland's police officers say generally that the town's barrooms aren't trouble spots, but the Broad Street Tap has been an exception.

In the police report of the March 4, 2013 case, Officer Adam Ledoux says he and Officer Brad Hampson were dispatched for a "fight in progress" at 11:30 p.m.

The bartender noted a man had been stabbed and bleeding heavily from his back.

Inside the bar the officers found three men, the stabbing victim and two patrons.

The victim was treated at Rhode Island Hospital for nine knife wounds.

The fight related, according to witnesses, to a past relationship between the victim and the mother of a patron, Shawn Plunkett.

Plunkett, of Broad Street in Cumberland, was charged with felony assault and disorderly conduct. Also charged was Clarence Mowry, of Woonsocket, with conspiracy felony, disorderly conduct and simple assault, according to Rhode Island 6th District Court records.

Both cases are pending.

In August of 2012, Officer Jolene Alves responded to a reported disturbance to find a patron who had been punched in the face by an intoxicated female. The woman was located and eventually arrested on charges of simple assault and disorderly conduct after she reused to cooperate with police officers.

The Town Council later found no violation of the liquor laws by the business.

The July 19, 2011 case is still pending, according to Desmarais, who declined to release the police report.

However, the Town Council did hold a hearing that ended with a "stern warning" by the Board of License Commissioners.

In that case, officers responded to a fight inside the bar and found a man and a woman both bleeding from wounds. Three men in the parking lot were stopped and eventually all arrested with two charged with felony assault. Witnesses say the fight, which began with a broken bottle and also involved mace and a knife, began with racial taunts.

About the new sports bar plan, Murray said the two sons "seem very energetic and also want to do something right."

Murray said the owner "wants nothing more than to get this cleared up."

But Higgins countered, "It's not the owner, it's the patrons."

Town Council members last week also reviewed a case of Mickey's Valley View Pub on Carpenter Street where an 18-year-old uncover decoy for the Police Department was served a can of beer on June 13 of this year.

The doorman later told the police he was distracted by another customer and didn't check the identification of the 18-year-old.

Murray said the bartender was summoned to District Court and a Town Council hearing won't be needed.

Also checked by the decoy that night were the Cumberland House of Pizza, Mendon Wine & More, Golden Ginger Restaurant, J. Grays Family Tavern, Fortune House, Serra Da Estrella and Churrascaria Marques. All declined to serve the minor, according to report by Sgt. Matthew Alves.