Sarasota Police Department investigating Sept. 26 incident near the Gator Club
The mother of a man who reportedly was attacked after trying to protect a homeless man outside the Gator Club in downtown Sarasota on Sunday, Sept. 26, is asking the public’s help to identify the assailants.
“My son is in the trauma center going through extensive surgery,” the woman wrote on the Nextdoor app on Sept. 26. “If you saw anything last night please contact me immediately,” she added.
The woman identified herself as Stacie Hunt of Bellevue Terrace.
After being alerted to the post, The Sarasota News Leader contacted Genevieve Judge, the public information officer for the Sarasota Police Department, to obtain a copy of the report on the incident.
The alleged attack that Hunt described occurred just before 2:30 a.m. on Sept. 26, the report says. The incident was classified as a Felony Battery.
The 31-year-old victim was not named in the report. The state’s Marsy’s Law allows victims of alleged crimes to opt out of being identified in law enforcement reports.
The officer wrote that he was dispatched to 1700 S. Tamiami Trail “in reference to a battery that occurred at 1490 Main St (Gator Club).” The South Tamiami Trail address is the location of Sarasota Memorial Hospital.
The victim told the officer that “after enjoying his night out at the Gator Club he began to walk towards the ‘sausage man’ located in front of the night club,” the narrative says. As the victim was walking, the narrative continues, “he observed a homeless man in the area.” The victim added that he walked over to the homeless person and gave him a $20 bill.
In the Nextdoor post, Hunt wrote that her son had offered to help the homeless man get some food.
Afterward, the officer’s narrative says, the victim “observed four white males begin to hassle and make fun [of] the homeless man.” The victim told the officer that “he confronted the men about this issue” and advised them to let the homeless man alone.
Then, the narrative continues, one of the men put the victim in a headlock while “another man began punching him multiple times in the face with a closed fist.”
The victim added that “multiple people observed this incident but only stood around and watched him get assaulted.”
After the men stopped hitting him, the victim told the officer, a cab driver in the area noticed that he was “severely injured and transported him to [Sarasota Memorial Hospital].”
When the officer talked with the victim at the hospital, the narrative says, the victim was able to describe only two of the four alleged suspects. However, the officer wrote, the victim “could only describe [them] as white males wearing gold chains.”
Another Sarasota Police Department officer who “was at the scene at the time was able to gather video surveillance of the incident,” the narrative continues. A second officer was able to gather witness statements, the narrative also notes.
The investigating officer then wrote, “This incident is believed to be a fight and [the victim] is a Mutual Combatant.”
The Hussein & Webber law firm, with offices in Jacksonville and Orlando, explains that Section 784.03 of the Florida Statues defines battery as “[a]ny actual or intentional touching or striking of another person against that person’s will (non-consensual), or [t]he intentional causing of bodily harm to another person.”
The firm adds, “In Florida, ‘mutual combat’ is a recognized battery defense predicated upon both parties assenting to a physical altercation and therefore consenting to be touched as an understood consequence of that altercation. Both parties must be at fault, and the defendant must not be the primary aggressor or initiate the fight.”
The victim did tell the officer that he wished to prosecute the alleged assailants, the narrative says, and the officer provided him a victim rights brochure.
The officer added that the case would be forwarded to the Police Department’s Criminal Investigations Division.
The Police Department does accept tips — including anonymous ones — through Sarasota County Crime Stoppers. A person can use the online portal or the mobile app, or a person may call the hotline: 941-366-8477, the website says.