Accused Man Rams into NBC Action News Crew with Wheelchair
7/12 1:25 pm
INDEPENDENCE, MO - An Independence bar manager rammed his electric wheelchair into an NBC Action News crew that wanted answers as to why he wasn’t giving his employees their paychecks.
“I'll answer, tell him to turn the camera off, and I'll answer any questions,” Dallas Country Bar manager Raymond Hyatt said sitting in his motorized scooter across the room from the NBC Action News photographer Al'lavee Miller, who was recording the conversation.
When NBC Action News Reporter Russ Ptacek explained they were on-camera and former employees of the bar at 3844 Noland Road wanted their paychecks, Hyatt became visibly upset.
“You're turning the camera off, right,” Hyatt demanded.
“It’s rolling, but I mean,” the photographer started to respond as Hyatt sped his motorized wheelchair about ten feet across the room at high speed, past Ptacek, into the knees and shins of Miller.
“I'm telling you get the hell out of here with the camera,” Hyatt blurted.
The bar manager grabbed at the camera and, from his wheelchair, began pushing the photographer into a corner.
Hyatt slapped Ptacek as the reporter tried to get between the man and the photographer.
Hyatt then rammed the photographer again with his motorized wheelchair.
“Sir, get your hands off of this man, now,” Ptacek is heard on tape as the man backs up his scooter and rams into Miller the second time. “Do not touch this photographer, do not touch our equipment. Now, back off. You have just assaulted this man, back off.”
The videotape shows the camera angle wobbling as the photographer tries to keep his balance.
Ptacek’s hands are seen trying to press the wheelchair bound man away as he and Miller are pinned deeper into the corner.
“You back off right now, we are calling the police,” Ptacek orders.
Hyatt had been blocking the exit with his wheelchair.
“Get out of here,” Hyatt orders as he backs his motorized scooter back to the other side of the room. “Get out of here.”
The crew left and called police.
Hyatt has been in trouble before.
He was initially denied a liquor license at the Dallas nightclub when state regulators discovered he had a felony conviction. His wife is listed as an owner instead.
Workers picketing outside said they haven't been paid in weeks and are owed as much as $1200 a person.
“I started the first week in June and I've never received a paycheck,” said former employee Melinda Sewell.”
“We just decided to walk out,” said former employee Steve Rodriguez. “We weren't going to work for free anymore. There was money in the payroll and now there's no money to pay anybody.”
Independence Police arrived minutes after Hyatt rammed the crew.
Miller’s shin was bruised with a minor scrape, but didn’t require medical attention.
After the altercation, a police officer approached the crew to inform them that Hyatt wanted to speak to Ptacek privately.
He acknowledged he did owe some of the employees back pay, but said other complaining employees had stolen money or equipment from the club.
He said he hadn’t yet filed police reports to indicate which employees didn’t deserve pay.
Hyatt said the club is having money problems and is seeking a new owner.
Hyatt apologized and Miller declined to press charges.
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