Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Lisbon, IA: Disabled Vet & Service Dog Reportedly Kicked Out of Restaurant // Update: Whitey's Bar Owner Responds to Accusations // Update: Assault Charges Filed

(Originally written on 07/06/15): Lisbon, IA, is in the national media following a July 3rd incident involving the owner of Whitey's Bar and Grill, a disabled war vet, and his service dog (though it's still listed as "not verified" -- apparently anyone can post stories on CNN's website, which CNN may or may not investigate):
A disabled, American war vet, Chazz Russell, wishing to dine with his service dog at Whitey's Bar and Grill, Lisbon, Iowa, was discriminated against and then viciously attacked by bar owner Daron "Whitey" Rubner.

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), privately owned businesses that serve the public, such as restaurants, hotels, retail stores, taxicabs, theaters, concert halls, and sports facilities, are prohibited from discriminating against individuals with disabilities. The ADA requires these businesses to allow people with disabilities to bring their service animals onto business premises in whatever areas customers are generally allowed. The bar owner questioned the vet about the authenticity of the service dog and the vet responded that he would be willing to go home and bring back the certification, but technically, business owners are not legally able to insist to see the paperwork.

Bar owner, Daron Rubner's response to the vet was to rant about no dogs being allowed in his establishment, and how the vet “must be lying” about being disabled. He then viciously attacked the vet. Police were summoned and charges against the establishment are pending.
A group of supporters currently plan to rally at the bar on July 26th to "let them know its NOT OK to discriminate against OUR vets."

You can read first hand accounts by the vet and a friend here and here.

As far as I can tell, there's been no online response so far from Whitey's Bar and Grill, or from the owner.

Updated on 07/08/15: KWWL posted a response last night from Daron Rubner, owner of Whitey's Bar and Grill, via his attorney:
"This incident had nothing to do with the service dog," said Whitey's attorney Mike Lahammer. "Mr. [Charles] Russell was not in possession of the service dog at the time. He was jerk at a bar and he threatened the owner." 

Attorney Lahammer did not hold back anything surrounding his client allegedly being attacked. Lahammer says once his client was attacked by Russell, his client asked Russell to leave, Russell refused...

Lahammer says Russell's actions were belligerent leading Russell, Elvis, his service dog, and his girlfriend Keleen Warren allegedly being kicked out of the bar. 

"Chazz Russell did not even have his service dog, his girlfriend had his service dog at the time. She brought it in after Mr. Russell had already been in the bar, drinking at the bar, she brought it in later," claims Lahammer...

Whitey's has been in business for about 10 years and Lahammer says it's unfair for the company to now have to take shots from people who don't even know the facts, ruining Whitey's reputation. 

"Whitey's should not be chastised in the media or have people up in arms in making threats to the owners of Whitey's or anybody associated with this case until they know the facts," said Lahammer. "It was a jerk in a bar, who had been drinking, threatened the owner and then refused to leave."
Rubner's attorney stated that there is video surveillance within the bar that contradicts Russell's version of the story, though this hasn't been made publicly available yet.

Updated on 07/22/15: There was a development in this case. Lisbon Police Chief Rick Scott filed Whitey's Bar and Grill owner Daron Rubner with two counts of assault last Friday. According to KGAN, police filed the charges after reviewing surveillance video of the July 3rd incident. A jury trial is scheduled for September 14th.

Rubner continues to deny these assault charges:
In a statement previously released through his attorney, Rubner says he didn't do anything wrong, saying there's been a lot of "misrepresentations and blatantly false information posted on social media and given to the press." 

Rubner says the argument involved "a belligerent patron making threats to one of the owners, who then asked him to leave."
It's always worth reminding people that Rubner has been charged with these crimes and not convicted.


Anonymous said...

They have been known for being scammers. I would look closely at the video for editing. If theres no audio get a professional lip reader. The day before this happened Darren sent the wife an apology for an incident he caused them while intoxicated. Hes a hot headed low tempered adult. A result of growing up spoiled and getting away with everything. They are friends with half of lisbon and surrounding towns. Id be suprised if they lost the fight as people will pull strings for them. Investigate fully.

Jon said...

We shall see. I suspect that things will fall somewhere between each side's story.

Anonymous said...

Alittle digging shows that Chazz (Charles Eugene Russell DOB 12/7/84) has a bit of a checked past on both the Ottumwa and Iowa City areas... Both places "Chazz" has lived. DUI, assault, theft, animal control, driving with revoked license etc.

Jon said...

Once again, I'm reserving judgement until the release of the video. -Jon

Anonymous said...

Whitey has been charged: