City seeks to shut down public nuisance’ bar on Washington Street

Published 12:00 am Thursday, March 29, 2001

[03/29/01] Vicksburg officials have filed suit in Warren County Chancery Court seeking to close a downtown nightclub described in court papers as a public nuisance.

City attorney Bobby Robinson filed papers last week on behalf of the Board of Mayor and Aldermen seeking an injunction against Jerry Stampley, owner of Coach’s, 1211 Washington St.

In court documents, which is only one side of the argument, city attorneys say that “various illegal and obnoxious activities” have continually occurred in and near the club. Papers also indicate that since the bar opened in 1998, the Vicksburg Police Department has been called to Coach’s more than 200 times.

One of those calls was Feb. 3, when Stampley was arrested for aggravated assault after shooting Michael Tyler in the stomach at Coach’s. Charges were later dropped after investigators ruled the shooting was self-defense.

In the court papers, the city says the business ” is a public nuisance and that the character of the establishment and the unreasonable, consistent pattern of illegal conduct, illegal activities and violence creates a condition which endangers the public welfare of the citizens of the City of Vicksburg.”

In November, Vicksburg Police increased police presence downtown after a Washington Street nightclub owner videotaped disturbances in the area.

The tape showed dozens of people wandering up and down the street in front of Coach’s with open containers of alcohol in violation of a city law against public consumption of intoxicants.

South Ward Alderman Sam Habeeb, who is an attorney, said that legal precedents have been set in Mississippi courts to allow the city to shut down the business if it can be shown that it is a public nuisance.

“This establishment has been a problem for some time,” Habeeb said.

In Vicksburg, at least two other bars deemed unruly by the city were closed in the 1990s after numerous police calls.

In 1999, complaints of unruly crowds, brawling and vandalism in front of Club T-Rel ended when the business lost its lease. At the time, Mayor Robert Walker was also pledging legal action against T-Rel’s as a public nuisance after the Washington Street nightclub was closed early by police on more than one occasion.

In January, former downtown business owner Jesse Wyatt, 68, who ran Downtown Pawn Shop, which is next door to Coach’s, said he retired because of vandalism he felt was caused by downtown nightclub patrons.

Stampley, whose listed telephone number has been disconnected, could not be reached. No number for Coach’s is listed.