10-Dec-09 – Hanson concerts probably aren’t supposed to end like this.
The mellow, pop rock band – three brothers from Oklahoma – is best known for its 1997 hit song, “MMMBop.”
But on October 12, an assault of a Hanson fan after a concert at Marina City’s House of Blues, allegedly by a security officer for the concert venue, has led to a lawsuit against the officer and his former employer, seeking at least $100,000.
23-year-old Brittney Hernandez left the concert and thought she’d try to glimpse the band as their tour bus left Marina City from a driveway that turns onto West Kinzie Street.
“I was super excited because I was a really big fan growing up. It was my first [Hanson] show that I got to see.”
Hernandez, a 23-year-old lighting designer in Chicago, has been a Hanson fan since she was 12, growing up in Marengo, Illinois. She was home-schooled, according to her father, just like the Hanson brothers.
At a curb near Kinzie Street, at about 11:30 p.m., Hernandez says she snapped a photo of her friends.
“And then the security guard attacked me right after that.”
Hernandez says the guard, identified later as 31-year-old Darrell Gibson, “ran up on me and ripped my camera out of my hands.”
This time, local news cameras were photographing Brittney Hernandez, a woman seen in a cell phone video in October being assaulted by a man claiming to be a security officer for House of Blues Chicago. At left is her attorney, Stuart Brody.
Gibson, she says, was saying “a bunch of profanity” that she declined to repeat at a news conference Thursday at her attorney’s office in downtown Chicago.
“He said, ‘give me your camera,’ and ripped it out of my hands. I freaked out. And that’s pretty much where the video starts.”
The incident, captured on cell phone video by a woman from Ohio who was also at the concert, shows the man identified as Gibson striking Hernandez in the face on the south side of Kinzie Street. The woman falls to the ground. Shortly after that, he strikes her again. Hernandez crumples to the ground once more and is motionless for several seconds.
In this enhanced frame from a cell phone video, a man at right, identified by police as Darrell Gibson, and who told police he was an employee of House of Blues Chicago, has just struck in the face Brittney Hernandez, who falls to the ground. The incident happened in a driveway that leads to the marina level of Marina City. In the background is Harry Caray’s Italian Steakhouse.
Hernandez says Gibson did not tell her why he wanted to take her camera. He and two other security officers were about 20 feet away from her and her group. “I was aware that they were there.”
The other guards, says Hernandez, did not try to break up the assault. “They were just watching. They were [saying to Gibson], ‘Just let her have her camera.’”
“We played tug-of-war at first with just the camera and then he just, like, attacked me,” she says. “He ripped my hair and put my face into the cement.”
When police arrived, they spoke briefly with Hernandez and then arrested Gibson. “I was really just in shock and didn’t say much. All the witnesses pretty much spoke for me.”
According to a Chicago police spokesperson, the altercation resulted in minor injuries to Brittney’s face. Brody says his client is still being treated for the injuries but “the extent of [her injuries] can only be determined once treatment is completed.”
Video critical to case
Brody says the four minute 15 second video is “critical” to his case. “The picture speaks a thousand words.”
“We see every day incidents, whether it be criminal or otherwise, being captured on video that really level the playing field, so to speak, because it tells the story better than two people having to say, ‘he said, she said.’ This is one of those incidents.”
Brody says HOB is responsible for the incident. “There are the responsibilities they have as an employer as to their employees in terms of training, supervision, responsibilities, and obviously not to harm people.”
The matter is important, says Hernandez, not just to her but to other concertgoers. “You want to feel safe when you’re at a venue or whenever you’re seeing a concert. Many parents…just drop [their children] off at the door and pick them up right afterwards. You would think that they’d be safe. They should be at ease knowing that their children are with people who are going to do their job correctly instead of rough them up for no reason.”
Hernandez says she has not heard anything from House of Blues.
Brody says there has been no explanations or apologies from HOB. “There has been no communications from House of Blues to Brittney or to myself at any point in time concerning this matter other than the fact that I received a phone call by an attorney who said his law firm may be representing House of Blues.”
The lawsuit was filed on December 3 in Circuit Court. Seven counts against Gibson include negligence, assault, battery, theft, and infliction of emotional distress. There are ten counts against House of Blues, including assault, battery, theft, negligent hiring and training, and statutory ordinance violations such as battery, theft, and failing to report the activity to police.
Gibson, of Sauk Village south of Chicago, pleaded guilty on November 5 to misdemeanor battery and was sentenced to a year of court supervision.