Criminal charges against the former owner of Angels and Wings, a restaurant and bar formerly located in the Tri-County Square Shopping Center in Corbin, were abruptly dropped by a Knox County judge last week after the two police officers who investigated the case failed to show up in court.
Knox District Judge John Chappell dismissed charges of alcohol intoxication, hindering the apprehension of a suspect and violation of the city alcoholic beverage control laws against Johnson last Thursday, the day the case was set for trial.
The charges stem from a late February 2008 incident where police forced their way into the Corbin sports bar in the early-morning hours to serve a felony arrest warrant on a waitress that worked there. The waitress, Jerri Queener, had allegedly stolen some items from an acquaintance and the victim informed police she would be at Angels and Wings for an after hours gathering.
When authorities arrived, Angels and Wings was locked. Corbin Police Officer Glenn Taylor Jr., who investigated the incident along with fellow officer Rob Jones, knocked on the front door of the restaurant trying to get the attention of those inside. Taylor claims Johnson, and others, simply ignored police and would not let them in. With the help of Kentucky State Police Trooper A.J. Bunch, the officers used a loud police public address speaker to try to get their attention, to no avail.
Authorities then broke in and performed portable Breathalyzer tests on everyone inside. Jonathan Huff, of Hoskinson, and Melody McDaniel, of London, were charged with alcohol intoxication.
Taylor said Tuesday that neither he nor Jones ever received notification that they were supposed to be in court last week to testify in the case. Chappell dismissed the charges "without prejudice" which means they can be pursued again in the future if police and prosecutors agree to do so.
Taylor said the Corbin Police Department had been "following the case closely" since the charges were filed and that there would be discussions between officers and Corbin Police Chief David Campbell, along with Knox County Attorney Charley Dixon, to determine what course of action they will take.
Johnson was charged with alcohol intoxication, hindering the apprehension of a suspect and violation of alcohol beverage control laws. His cousin, restaurant manager Mickey Johnson, was charged with hindering the apprehension of a suspect and violation of alcohol beverage control laws.
Taylor said Johnson was belligerent with police when they entered, telling them they had no right to come inside without permission.
Former Corbin Police Chief Carson Mullins, who also served as the city’s Alcoholic Beverage Control Officer at the time, said officers had consulted with him before entering the building. Any restaurant holding a state or local liquor license must allow authorities to enter for on-site inspections or for other reasons. Taylor said it was also a violation of ABC laws for people to be in Angels and Wings to drink after hours and allow access to alcohol when the business is closed. Restaurants in Corbin are not allowed to serve alcohol after midnight.
In a written statement to police, Taylor said one of those arrested claimed Scott Johnson instructed those inside several times not to unlock the door when police arrived.
Angels and Wings was the second Corbin restaurant to obtain a liquor license after city voters approved a referendum in 2003 that allowed certain establishments to sell booze by the drink. But, the restaurant was the source of considerable controversy while open.
It was cited numerous times by the investigators from the Kentucky Officer of Alcoholic Beverage Control for numerous violations, including selling liquor to underage patrons and for falsifying sales reports to make it appear as though it was meeting a mandatory requirement to have at least 70 percent of its gross receipts come from food sales.
Johnson, and the restaurant, were also the subject of a civil lawsuit brought by property managers of Tri-County Square who claimed they owed back rent and were seeking an eviction.
Angels and Wings was purchased last year by the owners of O’Malley’s Irish Eatery and Pub and renamed O’Malley’s 2.