Tiger star may have triggered bar fracas
Starter named in police report; two other players plead innocent
By Christopher Conley
Wednesday, September 5, 2007
About 2:30 a.m. Sunday inside the Plush Club at 380 Beale, a very tall patron attacked two security guards.
But which tall patron?
First an accusing finger pointed in error to 6-11 University of Memphis basketball player Shawn Taggart, whose angry, foul-mouthed response helped get him arrested.
Now a more familiar name has emerged -- tall guy and U of M player Joey Dorsey. He has not been arrested but still could be.
The dustup that began with the confrontation between the tall guy and the guards eventually sent agitated patrons streaming out of the club, and when one patron flagged down two police officers, things got uglier.
Arriving at 2:51 a.m., officers Sean Fritz and Eric Fletcher ran into a hornet's nest, an angry crowd of more than 100.
One of the security guards pointed out Taggart as the one who started it, and the officers moved in to arrest him.
Ultimately it turned out Taggart was the wrong man, but as police tried to detain Taggart, he yelled obscenities at the police, causing the large crowd to become further agitated, according to the charges. The fearful officers called for as much backup as they could get. Twenty squad cars responded.
As they were trying to take Taggart into custody, another UofM player, Jeffrey Robinson, bore down on the cops, fists balled up, and berated the officers. Fletcher pepper-sprayed Robinson and eventually Robinson and Taggart were cuffed.
Meanwhile, someone else in the crowd, Marcus Hill, tried to open a door of one of the squad cars. When Lt. W. Cleveland stopped him, Hill began screaming at police, further inciting the crowd, the charges say.
After Fritz and Fletcher put him into one of the cars, he made threats, according to the charges. "Let me catch you (expletive) without your uniforms, and I'll whoop your ass," he is quoted as saying. "I'll have your (expletive) job. ... My family owns a bonding company, and I'll be out looking for y'all."
Hill had no identification and refused to identify himself, according to the charges. He was charged with assault and disorderly conduct.
Taggart was charged with disorderly conduct and inciting a riot, Robinson with assault, disorderly conduct and inciting a riot.
Inside the Plush Club, the officers began an investigation.
By 3:36 a.m. they were hearing that the 6-9, 260-pound Dorsey had started the melee by first going behind the bar, then jumping on the bar when security guard Christopher Shaw -- 5-9, 140 pounds, police said -- asked him to move from behind the bar.
When Dorsey began throwing money at the customers, the report said, Shaw, 23, jumped up on the bar and asked Dorsey to get down.
Dorsey pushed Shaw off the bar, jumped down and began punching him. Another club security guard, Marcus Walker, 29, was struck when he tried to restore order, police said.
Dorsey was not there when police arrived, so he has not been charged.
The guards will have to identify Dorsey as the attacker for charges to be brought, and they must be willing to prosecute, said Det. Monique Martin, police spokeswoman.
Taggart and Robinson pleaded not guilty Tuesday in General Sessions Court. They are due back in court Sept. 25.
Their attorney, Leslie Ballin, said he expects they will be exonerated. "These are two quality young men," he said. "They were at the wrong place at the wrong time."
Coach John Calipari on Sunday set a curfew -- he said he will choose between 11 p.m. or midnight -- and a no-nightclubs policy for the whole team to make sure his players aren't again at the wrong place at the wrong time.
Robinson, 19, is a 6-6 freshman shooting guard from Columbus, N.J. Taggart, 22, a forward from Richmond, Va., is a transfer from Iowa State.
Calipari said discipline for the two players, as well as other team members who were at the nightclub, would be determined after a police and school investigation.
-- Chris Conley: 529-2595
Reporter Lawrence Buser contributed to this story.