The Richmond Register

November 16, 2012

RPD: Man seriously injured by falling in bar, not assault

By Sarah Hogsed
Register News Writer

RICHMOND — A local man who suffered a serious head injury last month at a Big Hill Avenue bar received the injury from a fall, not from being assaulted, according to Richmond police.

Gary W. Phillips, 53, was in fair condition Thursday afternoon at the University of Kentucky Medical Center, according to a hospital official. Phillips has been a patient there since Oct. 27.

That night, shortly after midnight, an anonymous 911 call sent police and EMS workers to Bernie’s Custom Cycles, 107 Big Hill Avenue, where they found Phillips unconscious on the ground, according to a report by Patrolman Joshua Roaden.

Police would later discover that a worker from a nearby bar, the Hog Trough, had called 911 but did not remain at the scene until emergency workers arrived.

Phillips had a swollen black eye and a small cut with dried blood on it, Roaden reported. When EMS workers tried to revive him, Phillips began vomiting and moaning.

Phillips was initially taken to Baptist Health in Richmond and then transported to the UK Medical Center.

The day after the incident, family members spoke to a Lexington TV station stating they believed Phillips had been assaulted.

Police were unable to question Phillips, so Detective William O’Donnell reviewed the surveillance video from the Hog Trough in an attempt to determine if a crime had been committed.

The video showed Phillips entering the bar at 7:23 p.m. Oct. 26, O’Donnell wrote in his report. The man remained at the bar for several hours.

At 11:52 p.m., Phillips fell backward out of his bar stool and appeared to land on his head, according to the report. Other bar patrons helped him back to his seat.

At 12:07 a.m., Phillips attempted to stand up but fell backwards and landed behind the bar, the report said.

Another customer helped Phillips get back on his feet and escorted him outside. The customer came back into the bar for a short time afterward but then left, the report stated. The bartender was seen on the video closing the bar and leaving at 12:10 a.m.

A UK Medical Center nurse caring for Phillips told O’Donnell on Oct. 30 that her patient had been diagnosed with a basilar fracture of the skull. A basilar fracture occurs at the base of the skull near the neck.

“The nurse also informed me that Mr. Phillips’ injuries appeared to be consistent with a person who had fallen,” O’Donnell wrote.

A few days after Phillips was injured, O’Donnell spoke to the woman who tended the bar at the Hog Trough that night, Casey Lake. She told the detective that she did not see anyone assault Phillips but confirmed he had fallen twice while inside the bar.

After the first time he fell, Phillips became sick and vomited in a trash can, the report stated. Lake told O’Donnell she suspected Phillips may have suffered a concussion.

When Lake walked out of the bar at the end of her shift, she saw Phillips laying on the ground. She tried to wake him up but was unsuccessful and called 911, O’Donnell wrote in his report.

Lake left the scene before emergency workers showed up and did not leave her name with the 911 dispatcher. When O’Donnell asked her why she did not stay with Phillips until help arrived, she reportedly said “she knew that there was nothing that she could really do to help Mr. Phillips,” O’Donnell wrote.

O’Donnell closed the case Oct. 31 after he entered a copy of the 911 call audio into evidence, according to his report.

Sarah Hogsed can be reached at shogsed@richmondregister.com or 624-6694.