By Pat Maurer
Several patrons of the Rockwood Bar in Farwell were planning to make a formal complaint against a State Police Trooper for his actions in an early morning New Year’s Day arrest at the business.
James Conlay, one of the bar’s patrons and a Farwell Village Council member, said the Rockwood’s manager Julie Raglin, 38, and her husband Trevor, 41, who also works at the bar occasionally, were arrested around 1:30 a.m. January 1, when State Police Troopers and Deputies from the Clare County Sheriff’s Department came reportedly looking for people involved in a fight at another Farwell bar earlier.
The Rockwood’s regular DJ, Kevin Jones, said he heard about a fight in the parking lot at DJ’s Lounge in Farwell when a friend came into the Rockwood around 12:45 a.m. where he was contracted to provide entertainment for the evening.
He said about a dozen people came in and shortly after that two State Police Troopers and two CCSD Deputies came in. “State Police Trooper [Scott] Taylor asked me if the manager was there. I said ‘She’s (Julie Raglin) not working but is standing at the bar. They started talking and her husband Trevor came up and she handed the trooper the liquor license. They talked maybe five minutes – I couldn’t hear the conversation – then Trevor walked back to the other end of the bar. The trooper came over and grabbed Trevor by the arm, there was no struggle, and took him outside. Everyone in the bar went to the windows to watch. Then Julie went outside.”
Conlay said he and his wife Janet, the Clerk-Treasurer of the Village, were with a group of approximately 18 people including the Raglins, celebrating New Year’s Eve at the bar. “Julie and Trevor were not working,” he said. “They were only there partying with us.”
He said when the four officers arrived, several people heard them ask to speak to the manager and to see the liquor license. While talking to Julie, a trooper ordered Trevor, who had come up to see what was happening, to “back up.” Conlay said Trevor complied but made a comment and swore while he was doing so. “They (the State Troopers) took him outside where they cuffed and arrested him while most of the bar patrons watched through the window and door.” He continued, “They put him on his knees and aimed a taser at him,” Conlay added.
Conlay said that the trooper, later identified as Scott Taylor, said Trevor was arrested for using the “F bomb.”
He said Trevor’s wife Julie, who followed officers and her husband outside, asked what was going on. “The trooper said ‘take a step back or you will be arrested too’,” Jones said. He said Julie put her arms out and said, ‘take me too’.”
Jones said he went out the back door and walked, with his hands “in the air,” around to where the police were holding Trevor. “I asked what was going on and the trooper told me ‘you get the owners down here,’.” Jones added, “then he told me to ‘close it [the bar] down’.”
Jones said he did what the trooper said, and went back in called the owners of the bar and told the customers they would have to leave. He said people began leaving and some were pulled over by police as they were leaving the bar.
Conlay said the police came to the Rockwood looking for a black woman and two black men involved in a “disturbance” at D J’s Lounge in Farwell. “There was no disturbance here,” he said.
A “blotter” January 2nd from the MSP said, “On 01/01/12 Troopers assisted the Clare County Sheriff’s Department with the investigation of a fight at a bar. Subsequent follow up investigation led the Troopers to a bar In Farwell of Clare County. During the investigation and subsequent Liquor Inspection two employees from the bar were arrested for Obstructing Police Officers and Disorderly Conduct. The employees were found to be under the influence of alcohol while working. The bar’s Liquor Law violations were reported to the Liquor Control Commission and the establishment was closed for the night.”
The information [from the police] was untrue, Conlay said. “The Raglins were not working that night. They didn’t resist arrest or obstruct police officers.”
According to information from the Clare County Sheriff’s Department, Trevor was arraigned in 80th District Court on charges of resisting arrest (obstructing police) and disorderly conduct. Julie was charged with resisting arrest. Both the Trevors posted bond and were released.
In a phone interview Wednesday, Conlay said another Rockwood employee, Shana Theisen, who was working on New Year’s Eve, was arrested Tuesday evening on the same charges as the Raglins. Clare County Deputies came to the Rockwood Sunday, January 8 with a warrant, Conlay said. Theisen turned herself in at the Clare City Police Department he said. “I don’t know why she was arrested. When officers asked to see the liquor cabinet January 1, she told them, ‘You should wait for the owners or have a warrant.’ The cop told her to ‘shut up’.”
“I don’t understand why the Rockwood is being singled out,” Conlay said. This is a quiet family type bar, we never have problems here.”
Jones also called the Rockwood “a really peaceful, family oriented bar. That’s why we don’t usually have problems there.”
Both Conlay and Jones said they would file a complaint about the actions of the officers during the incident January 1.
Jones said at first he was reluctant. “I’m afraid this will put a target on my head; but what they did was wrong. I watched the interaction. Trevor never assaulted that officer.”
“They [the officers] acted like Gestapo,” Jones said. “They shut us down for no reason. No one was disrespectful until they arrested Trevor. Later they said it was a liquor investigation. I think they just wanted to arrest someone.”
Conlay said both he and Jones had contacted State Police Post Commander Lt. Chris Stolicker and that a meeting had been set up with him on Thursday afternoon at 5 p.m.