The assault of hip-hop DJ Double-O at Cherry Lounge raises questions about Tempe PD’s behavior

By Niki D’Andrea

Kidz in the Hall

The arrest of DJ Double-O, one half of East Coast hip-hop duo Kidz in the Hall on Saturday, July 26, has been the talk of the town this week. Double-O, whose real name is Michael Aguilar, was arrested in Tempe and charged with assault and disorderly conduct after a performance at Cherry Lounge & Pit. As reported in The Arizona Republic this week, Aguilar was walking around the venue with a bottle of Grey Goose vodka. When venue security tried to take the bottle from Aguilar, he held on to it. Video shot by witnesses shows Aguilar holding a bouncer on the floor, before several bouncers jumped in the fray and began punching Aguilar. The 29-year-old performer was taken to the hospital, where he underwent surgery for a broken eye socket.

Video of the assault:

But there is more to this story than just a gaggle of bouncers beating up on a hip-hop performer. According to witnesses, Tempe police handled the situation with callousness and brute force once they arrived on the scene.

Tony Herrerra of Tempe witnessed the fracas and also filmed most of the incident. Some of his video footage is available on azcentral.com, but Herrerra says there is still more footage that will not be released to media for legal reasons. “There’s more to that video that Cherry Lounge was not aware of, but the attorneys don’t want that released yet,” says Herrera, who also indicated that the unreleased footage documents Tempe PD’s bad behavior that night. “The video coming out will show how [Tempe police] left [Aguilar] handcuffed on the curb while we tried to treat him. They were screaming at us to go the fuck away, using foul language.”

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Sergeant Steven Carbajal, a spokesman for the Tempe Police Department, says the police report on the incident is not available for release at this time because the investigation is ongoing. He also expressed surprise at allegations that Tempe police used pepper spray on club patrons that night, even though portions of the report obtained by The Arizona Republic describe officers using pepper spray on people leaving the club. “So far our investigation has just dealt with the behavior of the club’s bouncers,” Carbajal told New Times.

Aguilar’s Phoenix-based attorney, Albert Flores, is pursuing a lawsuit against Cherry Lounge, a venue that’s known for its burly security and strict dress codes (no headbands, bandannas, excessive jewelry, athletic shorts, or excessively baggy clothes). As of this writing, we were unable to reach a spokesman for Cherry Lounge.

But Herrera says Cherry Lounge’s security wasn’t the only problem. “A lot of people will be coming forward, not only about how the bouncers acted, but the way Tempe police handled it.”

We will keep you updated on this story as the case progresses and more details emerge.

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