‘Attacks the dead’: Family responds to new video release of rooftop bar homicide

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — The family and witnesses of a man killed on a rooftop bar in downtown Nashville are reacting after new video was released of the August incident.

DJ Barrett died after being held down by security staff at Dierks Bentley’s Whiskey Row. His death was classified as a homicide according to autopsy results from the medical examiner showing the cause of death was asphyxiation.

A hospitality group for Whiskey Row released two short video clips late Friday night in response to the autopsy.

In one video clip, they say you can see Barrett shove his friend as he walks on the dance floor and then a young woman before bumping into a security guard who they say asked Barrett to leave. In the second video clip, they say you see security attempting to escort Barrett out before he lunged and assaulted a security guard.

Attorneys for DJ’s mom, Tammy Barrett, said in part, “Whiskey Row Nashville attacks the dead and releases only twenty-three seconds of its many minutes of video footage in a vain attempt to justify its needless taking of a human life.” The statement goes on to say, “Whiskey Row asserts that the goal of its security personnel was to ‘try and restrain’ Dallas Barrett. By any metric, these men succeeded. Death is, after all, the ultimate ‘restraint.'”

A witness, who did not want to be identified for safety reasons, shot video of the ordeal as it unfolded in August. She said she not only could she see, but that she could hear Barrett saying, “I can’t breathe.”

“We were all telling them to get up. We saw the man couldn’t breathe. There were 20 people standing around saying get off of him,” she told News 2 regarding the security staff. 

The witness also questioned why the bar only released two short clips that make Barrett “look like the aggressor,” saying his family will never get justice in this case.  

“Closure for sure, justice no. They still lost their loved one, he is not coming back. God bless his family. I hate that this happened, I just hope they get the closure that they want,” she said. 

The release from Whiskey Row goes on to say they filed a complaint with Metro police after an employee approached two officers standing outside the bar for assistance that night, who instead told them to call 911. Nearly six minutes later, different metro officers entered the rooftop from the elevator.

Metro police on the other hand said the officer on Broadway who was first approached about an unspecified fight on the roof of the business radioed for a metro police security team to respond while that officer maintained a traffic post required for public safety. The actions of the officers who responded to the bar, as well as the officer initially told of a fight, are well documented in detail in the case file.

Police also say the complaint from the bar regarding their response from August was just filed one week ago and through HUB Nashville, pointing out the process could have been expedited by calling or emailing the office of accountability instead.

A metro police spokeswoman added that officials with the bar are declining to give their investigator more details regarding their complaint, instead directing them to their attorney who they are waiting to hear from.

Police hope to get the case file to the District Attorney’s office by the end of the week.

Statement on behalf of Tammy Barrett by her attorneys Sarah Crilps and Jon Slager:

In Nashville, and across this country, almost every black male in America is falsely
perceived as a threat, and Dallas Jordan Barrett was, unfortunately, no exception. Like so many
other young African-American men whose lives have been unjustly cut short, Dallas Barrett
was a blank slate upon which the story of his life remained yet to be written. Because of the
actions taken by numerous personnel employed by Dierks Bentley’s Whiskey Row Nashville,
Dallas Barrett will never know the joys of marriage, fatherhood, and a long life well-lived.

While Dierkes Bentley’s Whiskey Row Nashville has long since returned to “normal,”
Tammy Barrett, Dallas’s mother, is left with a void that can never be filled.
In its statement released on Friday, November 5, 2021, Whiskey Row Nashville
declares that “[N]othing is more important than the truth. . . .” Yet, in its quest for truth,
Whiskey Row Nashville attacks the dead and releases only twenty-three seconds of its many
minutes of video footage in a vain attempt to justify its needless taking of a human life. In its
statement, Whiskey Row asserts that the goal of its security personnel was to “try and restrain”
Dallas Barrett. By any metric, these men succeeded. Death is, after all, the ultimate “restraint.”

Though Whiskey Row insists that it requires “assistance” in understanding the content
of the Medical Examiner’s autopsy report, the findings contained in this report are,
nonetheless, clear and unequivocal. On August 16, 2021, several employees of Dierks
Bentley’s Whiskey Row Nashville murdered this 22-year-old black man through a combination
of mechanical and positional asphyxia. Among the facts that support this conclusion are the
following:

(1) Security personnel placed Dallas in a prone position on the hard, unyielding floor of
the bar and then applied diffuse and extreme pressure to his back over a period of minutes,
thereby preventing Dallas’s diaphragm and intercostal muscles from expanding and his lungs
from inflating with oxygen. In fact, Dallas struggled so mightily to breathe that he drew only
fluid into his lungs. The Medical Examiner described Dallas’s lungs as being congested and
edematous–filled with fluid and swollen.
(2) The Medical Examiner observed petechiae, or burst blood vessels, in the sclerae
and conjunctivae of both of Dallas’s eyes.
(3) Because the security guards completely stopped all arterial blood flow into Dallas
Barrett’s head and face, these areas became engorged with deoxygenated blood

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