Charges dismissed against brothers for brawl at LaBamba

Published 12:00 am Friday, May 11, 2012

By Shavonne Potts
SALISBURY — The court has dismissed charges against two brothers after a 2009 brawl at the LaBamba Club on Klumac Road.
In August 2009, brothers John Allen Fox and Michael Jeffrey Fox were attending a private party at the club when a fight erupted. The fight began inside and spilled into the parking lot.
A number of Salisbury Police officers were providing off-duty security for the event.
A local company, Groundbreaking Video Productions, was shooting footage for the party and captured what appeared to be then-Salisbury Police Officer Kareem Puranda punching a man, later identified as John Allen Fox.
The Fox brothers were subsequently charged with disorderly conduct, resisting a public officer, communicating threats and assault on an officer/government official, all misdemeanors.
Michael Fox was additionally charged with possession of a controlled substance in a prison or jail, also a misdemeanor.
The incident sparked a public outcry in the community regarding police brutality and led Gastonia-based civil rights activist John C. Barnette to hold numerous justice rallies in the area.
The court dismissed the charges against the brothers last week, saying it would not proceed with any further prosecution.
Michael Fox’s attorney, Salisbury’s Todd Paris, declined to comment, as did John Fox’s attorney, Jacob Sussman of Charlotte.
According to a dismissal notice filed May 4 explaining the reason not to prosecute the case, the U.S. Attorney’s Office is considering whether it would proceed with federal prosecution of a critical witness for the state.
The “critical witness” is not named.
The court document goes on to say two of the state’s potential witnesses are no longer employed with the Salisbury Police Department. The officers are not named.
The court also reviewed a consent order filed in September 2010 and, “in its discretion, is not proceeding with any further prosecution of these matters,” the document said.
The consent order said an SBI investigation into the matter is not complete.
Puranda resigned in March 2010 amid the SBI investigation.
There is no indication of whether the SBI has completed its investigation.
A call to an SBI spokesperson was not returned Friday.
As of the September 2010 court filing, the SBI file was not available for review and was not contained in any Rowan County court files as of Friday.
The consent order also said then District Attorney Bill Kenerly, Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Suneson and attorneys Sussman and Paris agreed that should the federal courts proceed with a prosecution against Puranda, the state may, in its discretion, voluntarily dismiss the charges.
The Middle District of North Carolina filed charges this week against Puranda in another 2009 incident. (See story on page 1A).
A third person arrested at the club that same night was Monique LaQuinda Barber. She was charged with two counts of assault on a government official, being intoxicated and disruptive, and resisting, obstructing and delaying a public officer.
Investigators said she didn’t comply with an officer’s commands to leave the club.
In July 2010, Barber was convicted on one count of assault on an officer and found not guilty on a second count. She was placed on probation.
The courts also found her guilty of misdemeanor resisting arrest and not guilty of being intoxicated and disruptive, a misdemeanor.
Con tact Shavonne Potts at 704-797-4253.