VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) – A brawl between Navy Sailors and off-duty police officers Saturday morning at a Virginia Beach bar led to pepper spray, a hospital visit and someone behind bars.
Sailors based at Oceana rented a party bus in celebration of two people moving on from their squadron, according to WAVY.com sources. Just after midnight Oct. 25, the group headed to Eagles’ Nest Rockin’ Country Bar near the Hilltop Shopping Center.
At the same time, three off-duty Virginia Beach Police officers were leaving the pub, said the bar manager. According to security, the officers had eaten dinner and were not in uniform. 10 On Your Side has received conflicting reports about when the officers’ next shift would start.
Eventually, an off-duty officer and someone on the bus exchanged a few words outside and a fight broke out, according to the bar manager and security personnel. Witnesses said one of the police officers tackled a Sailor and threw him against a parked car. The Sailor was kicked repeatedly, according to witnesses.
“The off-duty police officer said, ‘What did you say?’ and pushed one of the bus passengers, who pushed back,” an eyewitness, who did not want to be identified, told WAVY.com. “The officer threw a right hook, hitting a man in the head. That man then put the officer, who was not in uniform, into a bear hug. The officer spun around, getting out of the bear hug, threw the man to the ground.”
The eyewitness said the officer kicked the man three or four times in the head. That’s when a security guard ran out and pepper-sprayed some of the people in the area — the officers, Sailors, and several civilian men and women who were on the bus, according to Eagles’ Nest management.
The head of security said guards are trained to use pepper spray, when necessary.
Eagles’ Nest Manager Mark Fiore said the officers were not to blame, but admitted the situation got out of hand. He left the following message on WAVY’s Facebook page, speaking about the off-duty officers:
They also never sought out any altercation. Unfortunately, when people consume alcohol in groups often there are members of that group that are insecure and immature and bring attention to themselves by trying to intimidate others. They chose the wrong men to try and intimidate.
Bar management said there are no security cameras in the establishment’s parking lot, so there is no surveillance video of the altercation.
On-duty police officers showed up shortly after and arrested two people who had been on the party bus. One of them also ended up with stitches after the brawl, according to witnesses.
“My client Michael Hayden was arrested and charged with misdemeanor assault and battery on an individual, and that individual is A. Torres. This is a criminal investigation and we are continuing to investigate all the surrounding facts,” Attorney Mykell Messman told WAVY.com.
WAVY.com is still investigating the details including the statements taken at the bar. We know on-duty police showed up quickly and talked to many, but some of our eyewitnesses said police never talked with them.
On Sunday, a Virginia Beach police representative said the department was still sorting through the facts and would release more information Monday. On Monday, however, they did not release any information.
Navy officials have declined to comment.