An attorney has been retained to look into security at Santa Fe Station in the aftermath of a deadly brawl that took place in the hotel lobby last month.
Attorney Robert Eglet has been hired by the wife of the victim in the June 20 attack, 37-year-old Anthony Buchanan, a U.S. Navy veteran and father of three.
"I think there may very well be negligence on the part of the casino personnel, particularly the security, from preventing this from happening," Eglet said Friday.
The events leading to Buchanan’s death were sparked by a seemingly inconsequential run-in with Alexander Chacon, a 34-year-old who told police he had been in bar fights before.
Buchanan and his wife were celebrating a co-worker’s birthday at the Stoney’s North Forty country bar inside the Santa Fe, Eglet said.
While Buchanan’s wife was in line for the bar’s mechanical bull ride, Chacon appeared to cut in line in front of her, Chacon’s arrest report states.
Buchanan, feeling his wife had been disrespected, according to the report, exchanged words with Chacon. His wife later told police she didn’t feel it was "a big thing" and said her husband had consumed about 10 beers prior to the incident.
Chacon explained that a friend of his had already paid for him to ride the bull, so he went first. The two exchanged words again and parted ways.
Later, Buchanan approached Chacon, "again wanting to fight," the report states, but one of Buchanan’s friends pulled him away.
Throughout the night the two parties looked and pointed at each other in a threatening manner. About an hour and a half after the initial confrontation, Buchanan left the bar and headed toward the valet entrance of the hotel.
Chacon, without knowing Buchanan had left, headed toward the same entrance with friends. When Buchanan saw Chacon, words were exchanged again, according to the report.
Buchanan headed toward Chacon and took what appeared to police to be two swings. Chacon deflected the hits and responded with a punch to Buchanan’s face and chin.
The blow knocked Buchanan unconscious, and as he collapsed onto his back, Chacon leapt on top of him and hit him another six times.
The additional blows came when "Buchanan could no longer defend himself," the report states.
Security personnel and one of Chacon’s friends pulled Chacon off, and he fled the casino and across the street. Police arrested him at his home that night.
Buchanan was badly beaten. He suffered facial fractures and broken teeth and suffered at least one heart attack from fluid in his lungs, according to the report.
He died at University Medical Center two days after the fight.
Eglet said he hasn’t seen the video surveillance tape of the incident but said from his understanding, security did not intervene until several minutes into the fight.
"A crowd had basically encircled them while they were fighting, and this went on for not seconds, but minutes," he said.
Messages left with a Station Casinos spokeswoman were not returned Friday. Eglet said he has not had a chance to speak to officials there and has not filed a lawsuit.
Chacon was not able to be reached for comment.
He was arrested on a charge of battery with substantial bodily harm. Since Buchanan died, the charges could be elevated.
In his arrest report, police cited the fact that Chacon continued punching Buchanan once he was on the floor as justification for the battery charge.
The district attorney’s office is reviewing the case.
Contact reporter Lawrence Mower at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0440.