Fayette County

Lexington officers sue hotel over holiday party ruckus

Two Lexington police officers who say they were injured breaking up a melee at the Crowne Plaza hotel in December 2007 are suing the hotel and their alleged attacker.

The lawsuit claims that partygoers were served too much alcohol.

Officer Randall Combs injured his shoulder, and Officer Derrick Wallace dislocated his thumb in a scuffle with Daniel Lee Billings on Dec. 20. 2007. Wallace and Combs were two of several officers dispatched to break up an unruly holiday party at the Crowne Plaza-Campbell House, 1375 South Broadway.

According to police reports, police tried to arrest Billings' wife, Kathy Lee, after she had refused to leave and screamed loudly. Billings tried to intercede and allegedly fought with police.

Officers restrained Billings, but he continued to jerk his head around, banging it on the pavement, according to police. Wallace placed his hand under Billings' head to protect it, and he dislocated his thumb.

A witness told the Herald-Leader in 2007 that Billings was hogtied and police continued hitting after he was restrained.

Witness Rowena Collins said she saw an officer "taking both hands and hitting him in the back of the head as hard as he could possibly hit him. That's probably how he hurt his hand."

Daniel Billings pleaded guilty to third- and fourth-degree assault last year. Seven other people were arrested on charges such as disorderly conduct and alcohol intoxication.

The officers each filed lawsuits last month against Billings, Crowne Plaza and Shepherd Communications Inc., the company that threw the party. The lawsuit also names and unknown contract caterer.

Lawyer Frank Jenkins, who represents the officers, says the hotel's insurance company contends that a catering service supplied the alcohol.

"It is our contention that the serving of alcoholic beverages by the hotel was not properly supervised and the members of the party became, as best as we can tell, extremely intoxicated," Jenkins said.

The hotel did not return a phone message seeking comment. Officials at Shepherd Communications also did not return calls.

It is unusual for police officers to sue someone they arrested and the business that requested their help. But a police department spokeswoman declined to comment on whether it was appropriate for the officer to file the lawsuits. The department does not comment on pending litigation.

Billings could not be reached for comment.

The lawsuit seeks damages for pain and suffering; fright, shock and mental anguish; lost wages; medical expenses; loss of enjoyment of life; and attorney fees.

The defendants have not yet filed responses to the lawsuits.