Tavern owner describes fatal encounter

Alan Cole, owner of Ed’s Tavern, testified Friday he noticed no untoward behavior on the part of a drunken patron before the man was pushed out the door and into the street on March 3, 2012.

Cole was the lead-off witness in the second-degree murder trial of Kenan Gay, 25, accused of shoving Bobby Kingston, 30, out of the bar and into traffic after Kingston fondled Gay’s girlfriend, Liz Wicker. Kingston, hit and killed by a passing car, had a blood alcohol level of 0.29 – more than three times the legal limit for driving – when he died.

Cole said he had been working that night at the entrance with doorman Matt Floyd, keeping an eye on things at the bar and supervising the checking of patron IDs. His attention was first drawn to the two men, he said, when Gay rushed into the portal holding Kingston by the collar and pushed him out toward the street.

A security video from the bar was shown to the jury. It started at about 9:30 p.m. that night and showed Kingston enter the bar first and Gay come in a few minutes later. At 10:39 p.m., the video appeared to show Kingston approaching Wicker and trying to kiss her and putting his hand on her rear.

Gay then rushed over and hauled Kingston out the door by his collar.

Defense attorney David Rudolf asked Cole why nothing was done by the tavern staff to keep Kingston away from Wicker. Cole said no one had complained to him or anyone at the bar about Kingston’s behavior that night.

If they had, Cole said, bartenders would probably have asked him to stop his advances and may have cut him off from drinking. Sometimes it’s hard to interpret flirtation under the circumstances of a crowded tavern, Cole said.

“If I kicked everyone out who tried to meet the opposite sex,” Cole said, “I’d have an empty bar.”