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Questions raised over police response to nightclub brawl

Last Updated Sep 15, 2018 at 5:00 pm EDT

A fight between security and patrons on the pier at Cabana Pool bar in Toronto on July 30, 2017. PETER UNGURAIN

Police weren’t notified of a brawl between security guards and patrons at Cabana Pool Club last weekend until an hour after it ended, CityNews has learned. This happened despite a patron claiming just minutes after the fight began, he approached paid duty officers stationed outside the venue for help.

“This alleged assault took place at about 8 p.m. We’ve been able to determine that our paid duty officers called for assistance at about 9 p.m.,” Toronto Police Service spokeswoman Meaghan Gray said Thursday.

Video of the incident shows a bouncer with a wet shirt punching customer Josh Gomes in the head. Some words were exchanged between the two men and then the bouncer appears to punch Gomes again several times. The man who took the video says the fight started around 7:30 p.m. and lasted about half an hour.

Four constables and one sergeant paid by Cabana Pool Bar were on site to keep the peace, yet none called for backup until after those involved had left.

The patron who took the video says he approached the paid duty officers and even offered to show them the video, but he was brushed off.

Gray said police are still investigating what happened but acknowledges that paid duty officers are supposed to help keep the peace and call in about incidents as soon as possible.

Ink Entertainment — the company that runs Cabana Pool Bar — released a statement late Wednesday saying it’s “extremely troubled by the incident that took place” and “taking the necessary steps to ensure that safe environment.”

“In addition to co-operating with the investigations, Cabana management will meet with each staff member to reiterate that guest safety is paramount,” it said.

Ink Entertainment said the members of the security team involved in the brawl will be off the job until the police investigation is complete.

The company also said all security guards who work at its venues, including Cabana, are licenced as required by the province.

Coun. Paula Fletcher, whose ward covers the bustling Polson Pier, said this is not the first time antics at Cabana have caught city hall’s attention. It’s currently opposing an application by the club’s owners to increase its capacity by a thousand people to 3,500 allowed outside.

“It’s a very unfortunate incident on the weekend. I think when you’re at a nightclub and something goes wrong, you shouldn’t have your security people physically harming the patrons,” she said.

“And it does worry me that if there’s thousands and thousands more people as they’ve asked for in the liquor licence, that might create an even more dangerous situation.”