Witness: Police Mistreated RUSH Guitarist In New Year's Eve Ruckus

John Henderson of the Naples Daily News has issued the following report:

For the past year, John Cannivet said he has had to bite his tongue as he's read distorted versions of an altercation he witnessed between the lead guitarist for RUSH and Collier sheriff's deputies on Dec. 31, 2003.

As an employee of The Ritz-Carlton, Naples, where the fracas occurred, he hadn't been allowed to comment, even though he saw first-hand what happened in the stairwell of the hotel.

But now that he no longer works for the hotel, he has this to say: Collier County sheriff's deputies went way too far.

"It was extreme police brutality," said Cannivet, who was the assistant manager of stewarding until leaving that job in January. "The whole time all this was going down, I'm thinking, 'God, what did these people do? It must have been something really bad.' It just bothered me."

He believes he is a neutral source, not tied to the Sheriff's Office or hotel security. When he worked at the Ritz, his office was near the stairwell. He heard a fight going on, so he went to take a look.

His description of what unfolded is very different from that given by deputies.

Deputies in their arrest reports argue that they had no choice but to use force to subdue an unruly and intoxicated Alex Zivojinovich, known as Alex Lifeson in the internationally known rock group RUSH.

A deputy acknowledged that he punched Alex Zivojinovich in the nose as Alex was charging up the stairwell toward another deputy. Alex was zapped repeatedly with a stun gun, known as a Taser, before being arrested.

Deputies in their reports also defended their use of a stun gun on Alex's son, Justin Zivojinovich, who is accused of getting the ball rolling when he got onto the house band stage at the hotel during a New Year's Eve celebration and started talking into the microphone.

Read more at Naples Daily News (free registration required).

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