Iron Brotherhood bar fight: 'Everybody was swinging at everybody,' witness says of brawl allegedly involving off-duty police officers
Incident reports from the Prescott Police Department paint a picture of an unruly scene inside a Whiskey Row bar where a fight allegedly occurred Dec. 22, 2012, between members of a police motorcycle club and a bar patron.
The reports were released Thursday evening by the Arizona Department of Public Safety to The Daily Courier as part of a public records request.
The Iron Brotherhood Motorcycle Club is a men's group made up of active and retired law enforcement officers from Prescott and Prescott Valley police departments, Yavapai County Sheriff's Office, DPS and other law enforcement agencies throughout the state.
Witnesses told police that after Iron Brotherhood Motorcycle Club members entered Moctezuma's Bar on Dec. 22, some members fought with a bar patron, then swung at bar employees trying to break it up.
One witness told investigating officers she jumped behind the bar because men wearing black vests "were coming up to the bar" and "everybody was swinging at everybody."
Another witness said "he did not know what to do, because he knew the group of bikers to be police officers," according to PPD reports.
Earlier that evening, about 20 Iron Brotherhood members wearing black vests displaying their club's name held a party with wives and girlfriends in a back room at Hooligan's Pub.
Witnesses told officers "they were a rowdy group," the bar "cut off about 90 percent of them from alcohol by the time the party ended," and "the whole group was acting like some outlaw motorcycle gang," the police reports state.
A bar employee, needing to get past a woman in the bar, said when he put his hand on her to get her attention and ask her to move, a man identified as an Iron Brotherhood member yelled at him and "got in his face," according to the reports.
One witness told investigating officers he didn't feel police officers should act that way, noting that previous encounters with Iron Brotherhood were usually polite and pleasant.
After leaving Hooligan's, some Iron Brotherhood members wearing their vests flashed badges and "tried to bully their way inside Matt's Saloon," which has a "no colors" (gang-related clothes) policy, but failed, according to police reports.
Several Iron Brotherhood members went on to Moctezuma's, which also has a "no colors" policy, but the members showed bar security their badges and were let in with their motorcycle club vests on.
At 10:59 p.m., a Prescott Police officer went to Yavapai Regional Medical Center west campus and spoke with an injured man - Justin Stafford, 23 - who said he was punched by bikers earlier that night at Moctezuma's, according to the report. Stafford said the bikers wore black vests with patches on them reading "Iron something."
Much of Stafford's statement, as well as that of his friend, concerning what happened was redacted from the report, including how many times Stafford was punched and who punched him.
Names of all witnesses, victims, Iron Brotherhood members, and large portions of their statements were removed from PPD reports released to the Courier.
When the investigating officers arrived at Hooligan's, one saw several policemen he knew wearing Iron Brotherhood vests. The investigating officers were approached by a man in a black vest who showed a badge and asked what was going on, the report states. The officer told the man flashing the badge they were investigating an incident at Moctezuma's, at which point the man pulled both officers to the emergency exit.
Soon after, the officers called a sergeant saying the people they spoke with did not appear to provide them with all the information they knew. While waiting for the sergeant to arrive, an Iron Brotherhood member whose name was redacted said, "We knew you guys were going to show up. They told me you were coming, so I told (name redacted) to go home," according to the police report.
The officers returned to Moctezuma's to view surveillance videos of the fight, then placed them into evidence. Police reports were so heavily redacted it's not clear what the officers saw in the footage.
No one from the Iron Brotherhood returned an officer's request to provide the legal name of the man involved in the assault by the next day, according to a police report turned in on Dec. 23.
On Monday, Dec. 24, a Prescott Police detective was told by command staff that officers may have been involved in an assault at Moctezuma's two days earlier and asked detectives to obtain more video from the three bars, which was placed into evidence, according to police reports.
After the PPD's initial investigation, Prescott Police Chief Mike Kabbel, who has since retired, requested that the DPS Special Investigations Unit take over the case to avoid any perceived conflicts of interest.
DPS spokesman Bart Graves said Friday morning the agency's investigation into the incident should be completed in 30 to 45 days and surveillance videos will be released at that time.
The Courier is continuing its efforts to obtain the video as well as unredacted reports.