Officer says lack of witnesses, information stymies his efforts; club owners say story of incident is ‘suspect’ and ‘an insult’
An investigation into a recent alleged assault at Station 4 has come to a standstill because no one has said they witnessed the incident or provided any other information, according to a Dallas police detective who’s working the case.
Sid Gonzales, 43, claims he suffered a broken wrist, a puncture wound and multiple bruises when he was assaulted by two men near S4’s main dance floor Feb. 22. Gonzales has said he believes the incident was a hate crime and that the suspects came to S4 "to pick fights with queers."
But the owners of the gay nightclub, Caven Enterprises, have said there’s no evidence that the assault occurred at all. They’ve called Gonzales’ story "suspect" and "an insult to the integrity of our entire organization."
DPD Detective David Singer said that in addition to Gonzales, he’s interviewed bartenders, a manager and a security official from S4. But none of them have said they witnessed the incident.
"The people I’ve talked to, nobody saw it happen," Singer said. "Until we come up with more information, it’s very much at a standstill."
Singer said he wasn’t aware of any video footage from security cameras at S4. He also said he wasn’t aware that representatives from Caven Enterprises believe Gonzales may have falsified his report about the incident.
"If there’s any evidence one way or the other, they need to let me know," Singer said. "At this point, we have no evidence to indicate it’s a made-up story. If we can prove it’s a false report, we would pursue that."
Filing a false police report is a class-A misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail. Rick Espaillat, a spokesman for Caven, confirmed that corporate representatives haven’t talked to Singer. But Espaillat said he didn’t want to discuss the matter in any more detail.
"If we do choose to pursue this further with the police, I don’t want to pursue it in the papers," Espaillat said.
In response to the allegation that he may have falsified the report, Gonzales has stood behind his story and threatened to sue Caven.
Gonzales said he’s since been barred from all clubs owned by the company, including J.R.’s and Sue Ellen’s.
"It’s like they’re punishing the victim for some reason," Gonzales said. "There’s not much I can do about it."
Espaillat would not confirm whether Gonzales’ has been barred.
"I don’t want to publicly discuss who we have barred from the clubs," Espaillat said.
Gonzales also said he’s disappointed in police because he doesn’t believe they’re being aggressive about the investigation.
Gonzales recently learned he may need surgery on his wrist, he said. When he went to have a cast removed, doctors discovered that the bones weren’t healing properly.
According to Gonzales, he was near the dance floor at about 11 p.m. when the two men, who were accompanied by a woman, walked over and stood nearby. Gonzales said he was trying to be friendly and reached out to shake hands with one of the men. The man grabbed Gonzales’ arm, twisted it in the air and slammed it on a knee.
Gonzales said the first man also stabbed him in the hand with an unidentified object, while the second began kicking him. He said he approached two bartenders and front-desk staff following the incident but was unable to locate security.
Caven representatives have said no S4 employees have any recollection of Gonzales reporting the incident. Asked about video from security cameras, they’ve declined to discuss specifics but reiterated that there is no evidence to back up Gonzales.
It’s not the first time Gonzales has alleged he’s been a victim of anti-gay bias. After being fired from UT Southwestern Medical Center in February 2007, Gonzales told Dallas Voice he’d been bullied by five former co-workers because he was gay. According to Gonzales’ termination letter, he was fired for poor job performance.
A complaint Gonzales filed with the school’s office of equal opportunity and minority affairs was dismissed for lack of evidence.
Gonzales said a complaint he filed with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is still pending.
Mike Fetzer, director of EEOC’s Dallas district office, said the agency can’t release any information about complaints — or even confirm they’ve been filed — unless and until they result in lawsuits. Complaints can also be resolved through mediation, but more than three-quarters are dismissed without any benefit to the charging party, Fetzer said.
"We try to resolve most charges that are filed with us within 180 days," Fetzer said. "It would be possible to have a charge pending with us for more than a year."
Sexual orientation isn’t included in the anti-discrimination law that EEOC enforces, but complaints can be filed on the basis of gender expression under Title VII, he added.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition March 28, 2008.