SYSTEM OF A DOWN bassist Shavo Odadjian has sued a Grand Rapids, Michigan security company, claiming assault, ethnic intimidation and humiliation by guards who threw him out of his own concert at Van Andel Arena, according to The Grand Rapids Press.
Odadjian left the stage to join two female guests in the audience when his band finished their act on Oct. 28, 2001. After watching part of the performance of co-headliners SLIPKNOT, they were blocked from walking together backstage.
In view of the crowd, Odadjian claims his nose was bloodied, he was dragged by three guards through the audience and tossed out the arena's front doors.
The 28-year-old Armenian-American has filed a lawsuit in Kent County Circuit Court against DK Security, a company owned by former agent-in-charge of the FBI in Grand Rapids, Robert DuHadway, and the former U.S. marshal in Grand Rapids, John Kendall.
The lawsuit also names as defendants the three guards who had contact with Odadjian that night: Charles Booth, a DK vice president, Brian Zylstra, DK's account manager and trainer, and Mark Stoken, the security guard who allegedly struck Odadjian.
All three remain employees of DK Security, which continues as a contract security agent at arena events for the facility's manager, SMG.
"We couldn't find that they did anything wrong," said Brian Vincent, DK Security's corporate attorney in Grand Rapids.
"I've been in on the investigation since the beginning and we have found no evidence to support the plaintiff's claims," Vincent said.
Robert Sosin, a suburban Detroit lawyer who represents Odadjian, said the lawsuit was filed after other efforts failed to resolve his client's complaints. He said Odadjian now is preparing to answer lawyer's questions about the incident in depositions.
"We made a claim quite a while ago and tried to negotiate something. This is the product of that negotiation," Sosin said. "They wanted to take a statement (from Odadjian) and that's fine but he's a busy man and let's do it once and get it over with so we decided to let's just get things started."
Odadjian's lawsuit said he and his guests were stopped and their "all access" credentials were ignored by guards. Odadjian said Stoken elbowed him in the face without provocation and Stoken and the others grabbed him by the arms and legs and "violently dragged him all the way to the front of the arena" in the presence of his fans.
He said he was given medical attention by police and arena personnel. Odadjian's lawsuit says he suffered "serious personal injuries and damages including his face, nose, eye, shoulder, back and he was caused to suffer pain and bleeding in his nose for long periods of time." He claims he has become "sore and sick and disordered," has received treatments and will require future treatments to "cure himself."
Vincent said the version of events told by DK Security employees is that the other headline band, SLIPKNOT, gave instructions that no one should be allowed backstage during their performance due to the band's use of fireworks.
"He (Odadjian) was trying to take the two women back during this and he was stopped," Vincent said. "He didn't accept the restrictions and he started a pushing match, combined with a great deal of profanity in an area down on the floor where there were other patrons watching."
Vincent said he has no evidence that any security workers struck Odadjian.
Once outside, Odadjian filed an assault-and-battery complaint with Grand Rapids police. Police interviewed both sides of the incident and didn't seek charges against any of the guards, Vincent said.
The police report says Odadjian had permission to go back stage, but not the two women.
Stoken, Booth and Zylstra told police they never struck Odadjian and, "don't know how the bloody nose happened."
It is the practice of DK Security to photograph each person ejected from an event, Vincent said. The photo of Odadjian was confiscated by the band before they left the arena.
"They say the picture shows he suffered injury, but I have not been allowed to see the photo," Vincent said. "We have asked for any indication showing medical treatment and have received none."
Vincent said he and his clients were surprised by Odadjian's additional claim of ethnic intimidation and are uncertain what kind of racial slurs might be used to insult him. All four members of SYSTEM OF A DOWN are Armenian-Americans, according to the suit.
A civil finding of ethnic intimidation could result in triple monetary damages.