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Hearing begins on whether to keep All City Sports Bar closed

Officers want location shuttered for a year, declared a nuisance

YOUNGSTOWN — A city police officer testified Thursday that he responded to the All City Sports bar several times this summer and for several months before that for complaints about such problems as illegal parking, trash, large crowds and noise.

Officer Christopher Staley, who works in the department’s vice unit, was the first witness before Magistrate Tim Welsh of Mahoning County Common Pleas Court in a hearing to determine whether the bar should be closed for a year and declared a nuisance. The hearing resumes today.

Welsh approved a temporary restraining order that ordered the bar at 1692-1698 Mahoning Ave. on the West Side boarded up in August after Youngstown Law Director Jeff Limbian filed a nuisance complaint.

Under questioning by Assistant Law Director James Vivo, Staley testified about trips to the bar July 3, Aug. 14, Aug. 19, Aug. 21 and 22. On each of those dates, Staley wrote reports detailing activities.

Staley said sometimes people made complaints about the bar to a council member or police Chief Robin Lees, who passed them on to the vice unit.

On July 3, Staley said he observed a large crowd and people outside the front door, and people were not socially distancing or wearing masks. There also was a parking issue on South Lakeview Avenue beside the bar — people parking on the sidewalk, devil strip and in other no-parking areas.

He knew the people illegally parking were from the bar because he observed them leaving the bar and going to their cars, he testified.

On Aug. 14, a person was arrested for improperly handling firearms in a motor vehicle and drug possession after the person “drove down the sidewalk and parked directly behind where I was standing” across the street from the bar.

On Aug. 22, a person was again charged with improper handling of firearms in a motor vehicle and drug possession after a loaded gun was discovered under the passenger seat in a vehicle parked across the street from the bar.

Staley testified that he had also been to the bar multiple times in the three months before the July 3 because of similar complaints about the bar and talked to someone at the bar about it, but the conversation did not result in any changes.

Bar owners Isaiah Poindexter and Brandon Brown were in court for the hearing with their attorney, Walter Madison.

Madison cross examined Staley, asking him if a person is required to wear a mask into a bar, and Staley agreed it is not required — as long as the person is socially distanced. Then he asked if the city cites every person who fails to socially distance, and Staley agreed that not everyone is cited.

Staley also agreed that he cannot know whether every person he sees in a bar has an exemption from social distancing requirements, such as being with close family.

Staley also could not provide the name of anyone who complained about the bar when he went there July 3 because the police department does not require a person to give their name.

Staley also admitted under cross examination that he had testified incorrectly when he said earlier in the hearing that nothing changed at the bar after he spoke with the owners. Security changes were made, Staley agreed

Under questioning by Madison, Staley agreed that the bar did not tell people to jaywalk when entering or leaving the bar, but Staley had listed jaywalking as one of the problems.

As for the weapons found in vehicles, Madison wondered how the officer connected them to bar activities, and not activities elsewhere, or beforehand.

erunyan@tribtoday.com

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