UPDATE: Cold Crush is reopening Thursday, Oct. 20, after coming to an agreement with the city.
On Oct. 10, Tyrone “Goodie” Adair — son, father and local rapper — was shot and killed outside Cold Crush, the popular hip-hop bar at 2700 Larimer St.
On Oct. 12, the city posted notice that the bar has been designated a “public nuisance,” and on Oct. 13, an emergency suspension of Cold Crush’s liquor and cabaret license effectively shut the bar down.
The uproar was instant and loud.
It started on social media, where many chalked up the closure to racism — some blaming police, others blaming the city and still others blaming the bar’s neighbors.
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Westword obtained emails that show correspondence from RiNo Art District board members, police Commander Mike W. Calo of District 2 and a neighborhood resident.
That resident, Andy Templin, who has lived in the area since 2007, contacted Calo after the Oct. 10 shooting: “One unwelcome change has been the continued violence that has plagued the Cold Crush restaurant/bar since it opened.”
He also wrote: “Potential liquor license violation due to fighting/shooting? The place really needs to be shut down.”
But many people asked: Why not shut down any of the other downtown bars?
So what’s really going on here? We took a look at the available crime data to try to find out. Cold Crush didn’t have an unusual number of violent crimes compared to other bars, but it nonetheless seemed to attract more police attention.
The emergency license suspension lists 29 reported crimes and issues.
The order of emergency suspension from the Department of Excise and Licenses, dated Oct. 13, 2016, says the liquor and cabaret license for Wise Investments 9 LLC (Cold Crush) has been suspended on the grounds of a “precarious pattern of conduct.”
“The Denver Police Department considers the continued operation of the establishment to pose an imminent danger to the community,” it reads. “As reported by the Denver Police Department Gang Bureau, the establishment and adjacent environs is well known to be a haven for street gang related illegal activity. Establishment practices and conduct among patrons of the establishment have generated numerous accounts of illegal activity reported and unreported. The consistency and quantity of this activity stresses municipal resources and heightens anxiety among the community in which the business resides.”
The order lists 29 offenses “among some recent reported crimes and issues.”
Here is the full list:
Nov. 16, 2015: Assault inside the bar
Nov. 26, 2015: Lost or stolen cellular telephone inside the establishment
Dec. 6, 2015: Lost or stolen cellular telephone inside the establishment
Dec. 23, 2015: Stolen purse inside the bar
Jan. 03, 2016: Theft of cellphone in the bar
Jan. 25, 2016: Theft of purse in the bar
Jan. 31, 2016: Theft of wallet and cellphone in the bar
Feb. 4, 2016: Assault resulting in serious bodily injury at the bar
Feb. 6, 2016: Assault adjacent the bar
March 5, 2016: Assault resulting in serious bodily injury at the bar
March 18, 2016: Domestic violence assault and kidnapping adjacent the bar
March 20, 2016: Theft of purse in the bar
April 17, 2016: Assault on a police officer at the bar
April 18, 2016: Trespassing
April 23, 2016: Felony menacing with a handgun at the bar
April 24, 2016: Stolen cellphone and cash at the bar
April 25, 2016: Assault on a police officer at the bar
June 4, 2016: Public fighting on licensed premises
June 5, 2016: Theft of cellphone in the bar
Aug. 13, 2016: Theft of purse in the bar
Aug. 30, 2016: Robbery adjacent the bar
Sept. 9, 2016: Uncooperative bar ownership during a criminal investigation
Sept. 13, 2016: Assault at the bar
Sept. 14, 2016: Theft of wallet and keys at the bar
Oct. 6, 2016: Partial liquor inspection revealed several violations related to Colo. Liquor Code
Oct. 10, 2016: Theft of wallet and cash at the bar
Oct. 10, 2016: Shooting and wounding inside the bar
Oct. 10, 2016: Fight and homicide adjacent the bar.
Oct. 11, 2016: Citation of mobile food truck (located on the street) supplying meals for bar patrons. Liquor code violation (bar investigation pending).
The order also lists one prior violation — sale of alcohol to an underage person — dated Dec. 12, 2014. A settlement agreement provided to Denverite by the Department of Excise and Licenses says this was Cold Crush’s first liquor license violation in two years.
On Sept. 15, 2016, the city’s Department of Environmental Health notified co-owner Brian Mathenge in writing that there were noise complaints “regarding excessive noise from amplified music and DJs.” The letter says that further complaints would lead to monitoring by the DEH or DPD, but no documents provided by the Department of Excise and Licenses indicate that the issue went that far.
Asked if there is a standard for the number and/or type of offenses that leads to an emergency suspension of a license Dan Rowland, spokesman for the city on this issue, said “the short answer is no.”
“The Denver Police Department and City Attorney’s Office review the information and make a recommendation to the Director of Excise and Licenses, who ultimately decides whether or not to issue the suspension,” he wrote in an email. “In this case, there is a clear pattern of violence and illegal activity that stems from this particular business and location. Both the nuisance posting and emergency suspension were issued after careful consideration.”
To clarify, that essentially means a bar must be targeted, whether for a good reason or bad.
Denver isn’t tracking crime at bars and then deciding which ones are bad enough to close. In this case, it’s pretty safe to say the past offenses were collected in response to Adair’s fatal shooting. But the question on everyone’s mind is why Cold Crush and not any other bar with a reputation for late-night trouble?
Here’s how Cold Crush compares.
Denverite obtained calls for service for Cold Crush and several other bars from Denver’s Department of Public Safety, spanning Oct. 9, 2015 to Oct. 9, 2016.
A few outlets have already reported that police have been called about Cold Crush 438 times in the past year. And while the Denver Post noted that many of those calls were marked “officer working off duty,” it went on to say those calls represented off-duty officers reporting problems. However, according to Denver Department of Public Safety Records Administrator Mary Dulacki, this means that an officer notified dispatch that he or she is working off duty, as is required, and is not an indication of any particular issue.
The total number of “officer working off duty” calls is 259, so that brings the remaining calls down to 179.
We combed the calls for service to Cold Crush to count up the number of each type of call. We did the same for six other bars in the LoDo and RiNo neighborhoods, including Beta Nightclub, LoDo’s Bar and Grill, The Ginn Mill, Cervantes Masterpiece, Summit Music Hall and the Larimer Lounge.
The total number of calls is greatest at Cold Crush, but it’s not that simple.
Here’s the breakdown of total calls:
Cold Crush: 438
Ginn Mill: 165
Summit Music Hall: 50
Larimer Lounge: 21
And here’s the total number when you exclude calls labeled “officer working off duty”:
Cold Crush: 179
Ginn Mill: 63
Summit Music Hall: 40
Larimer Lounge: 20
But there are some things that pop out once you’ve broken down those numbers by the type of call.
Assaults, for example, are about the same for the three spots with the most calls:
Cold Crush: 10
Same goes for theft:
Cold Crush: 4
And here’s what weapons calls look like across the board:
Cold Crush: 1
Ginn Mill: 0
Summit Music Hall: 1
Larimer Lounge: 0
Cold Crush and Beta had three calls each for “shots heard/fired.” No other bars had calls for shots heard/fired.
Each bar had fewer than 10 intoxicated person calls, noise complaints and fights, and there isn’t a lot of variation between bars there either.
The most common type of call for Cold Crush is something labeled “directed follow-up.” That makes up 46 calls.
There are no directed follow-up calls for any other bar.
We’ve asked Dulacki to explain exactly what the term means, but have not yet received a response.
Another area in which Cold Crush’s numbers stand out is “special assignment” calls. Cold Crush had 11 in one year, Ginn Mill had one and no other bar had any.
A large proportion of Cold Crush calls are labeled “subject stop,” which Dulacki defined simply as “an individual was stopped and contacted.” Only one bar had more than that: Beta, with 36.
And there are other little odds and ends. Cold Crush had two 911 hang ups, while LoDo’s had one and the rest had none. Cold Crush also had a call labeled “E 12 convulsions/seizures” that no one else has.
Many of the calls for Cold Crush were non-violent nor otherwise destructive: two “found property,” one “missing person/runaway,” two “tow,” two “accident no injury,” one “information call,” one “noise complaint, two “nature unknown” and more.
A scan of calls at all the other bars found some serious complaints that did not turn up on the Cold Crush list. There was a stabbing call at Summit Music Hall on Oct. 3 and a stabbing call at LoDo’s on July 22. There was one overdose call at both Summit Music Hall and Cervantes, and one narcotics call each for Beta, LoDo’s and Ginn Mill. Beta also had one sexual assault call.
So here’s what we don’t know.
Of 29 crimes alleged in the suspension notice, we found 12 positive or likely matches on the police calls for service list. Of the remainder, four crimes were reported on Oct. 10 or 11, while the call list ends Oct. 9.
It’s possible some of the crimes in the suspension notice that we did not see in the call list were excluded, as the department denied portions of Denverite’s records request, citing ongoing investigations by the Nuisance Abatement and Homicide units.
“Both the Department and the public share an interest in a thorough and complete investigation into the establishment. Additionally, the Department has an interest in maintaining the integrity of that investigation,” Dulacki wrote in an email. “Those interests outweigh any public purpose to be served by releasing any additional records responsive to your request at this time.”
Denverite reached out to Cold Crush for comment last week, but has not heard back. A manager agreed to take questions by email, but never replied after the questions were sent.
Cold Crush co-owner Mathenge told Westword that neither he nor his partners have met with members of the RiNo Art District, but that he’s meeting soon with Councilman Albus Brooks, a city attorney, a Denver police representative and RiNo Art District co-chair Andrew Feinstein.