Bar that served soldier who was killed by police faces possible penalties

By Andrew Pereira
Published On: Mar 06 2014 07:05:55 PM HST
Updated On: Mar 06 2014 10:07:29 PM HST

After a drunken soldier was shot dead by police, the bar that served him, the Nashville Waikiki, may be in violation.

HONOLULU -

The Honolulu Liquor Commission has issued three notices of violations to the owners of the Nashville Waikiki, a bar located at the Ohana Waikiki West on Kuhio Avenue where Schofield Barracks soldier Gregory Gordon spent the final hours of his life before being killed by police.

Click here to watch Andrew Pereira's report.

Last year's shooting death of Gordon in the early morning hours of Jan. 15 made national headlines and shined a spotlight on the issue of post-traumatic stress disorder. Gordon, 22, was a fire support specialist with the 3rd Squadron, 4th Calvary Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team stationed at Schofield. He served in Afghanistan from April 2011 until January 2012.

Video of Gordon's deadly encounter with police was captured by residents who live along the Ala Wai Boulevard. One of the videos shows Gordon's Dodge Ram truck surrounded by 10 patrol cars before shots ring out.

The Liquor Commission served the notices of violation to Karen Huntimer, one of the co-owners of the Nashville Waikiki, on Jan. 7.

The violations include promoting excessive consumption of liquor, permitting a person under the influence to remain on the premises and drink stacking, which involves serving more than one drink at a time.  All of the violations are said to have occurred at 2:30 a.m., about an hour and a half before Gordon was killed. According to the medical examiner, Gordon had a blood alcohol level of 0.196, which is nearly 2.5 times Hawaii's legal limit of 0.08.  

The Nashville Waikiki faces possible fines as well as the termination of its liquor license when an adjudication hearing is held before the Liquor Commission on March 27 at 4 p.m.

Gordon's parents, Todd and Tracey Gordon of Ashford, Ala., believe the bar should be shut down.

"I know here in Alabama if somebody's that drunk, the bars, they call for somebody to come get him," said Todd Gordon. "They don't let them leave and drive."

Tracey Gordon told KITV4 that if she could confront the owners of the bar, she would ask them the following: "Why did y'all have to serve him so much alcohol? Why couldn't y'all call him a cab? Why did you let him leave?"

The soldier's parents believe their son's actions against police officers in Waikiki were triggered by a severe episode of PTSD. They recount an incident in 2011 when Gordon was on a two-week leave from Afghanistan, and thought trash bags along the side of a Mississippi highway were IED's, or improvised explosive devices.

"My son did wrong, he was drunk and he was running from the police," said Todd Gordon. "But, I think when the police department fell in behind him, he went back to Afghanistan, to the war. That was his time to get away."   

As Gordon's parents await possible penalties against the Nashville Waikiki by the Liquor Commission, they're also considering possible litigation against the bar's owners as well as a wrongful-death suit against the Honolulu Police Department.

According to Honolulu criminal defense attorney Todd Eddins, any liability by HPD could be extremely difficult to prove.

"In my view, it's going to be an uphill battle," said Eddins. "Hawaii law protects police when they feel it's immediately necessary to use deadly force to curb harm to others, including themselves."

Eddins also believes the soldier's parents will be hard-pressed to prove the Nashville Waikiki had any culpability in Gordon's death.

"It's not necessarily reasonably foreseeable that the individual would go out and cause, or engage in certain contact to result in his own death by shooting by police officers," he explained.

Meanwhile, HPD spokeswoman Teresa Bell said an internal investigation into the actions of four officers involved in the shooting of Gordon was completed in October. Last month, two officers received certificates of merit for helping to stop Gordon's vehicle, which infuriates the solder's parents.

"It sickens me," said Tracey Gordon. "It makes me angry."

KITV4 made several attempts to contact the owners of the Nashville Waikiki, but never received a response.

For now, Gordon's parents cling to the only thing they have left of their son, his 2-year-old boy Gage.

"It's so hard that he's never going to know his daddy, and he asks about him all the time," said a sobbing Tracey Gordon.

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