Skip to comments.Rush Guitarist Alex Lifeson Breaks Silence on Arrest and Trial (Excellent Statement)
Posted on 06/10/2005 10:49:03 AM PDT by My Favorite Headache
Rush Guitarist Alex Lifeson Breaks Silence on Arrest and Trial
Douglas Maher-All Headline News Staff Reporter
June 9,2005 1:47 EST
Toronto,Canada (AHN)-The guitarist for the rock trio Rush has responded to the events leading to his arrest on New Years Eve 2003 at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Naples,Florida.
Lifeson issued the following statement today appearing on Blogcritics.org:
"In like a lion, out like a lamb. These words appeared in a Naples Daily News editorial on April 27, describing the outcome of the criminal charges against my family and myself. After fifteen months of living in fear and anxiety, and the enormous physical and emotional toll that it took from all of us, the prosecution's case began to crumble as the truth emerged and witnesses came forward to expose the behavior of these Collier County Sheriff's Deputies and certain employees of the Ritz Carlton, a resort hotel reputed to be one of the finest in the world.
"As that part of this ordeal came to a close, I thought to myself that more than anything, I wanted to get my life back on track. I thought I could accept the fact that I was punched in the face so hard it ripped the cartilage from my nose, fracturing the bone and shattering my septum. I thought I could accept the incredibly painful nasal surgery and weeks of recovery, and the discomfort I feel every night when I go to sleep. I thought I could accept the fact that I was Tasered six times, twice while lying face down in a growing pool of my own blood, and so severely that it burned bloody holes in my back. I thought I could accept watching my son get electrocuted numerous times as well, and erase the memory of his screams of pain and terror.
"I thought I could accept being imprisoned for two days without a phone call for over fourteen hours. I thought I could accept the innuendo of those who don't know me and believed I was just some spoiled, drunken rock star. I thought I could accept watching my daughter-in-law, through a crack in the prison door, as tears streamed down her face because she was unlawfully jailed and separated from her two months old son. I thought I could accept the deep depression my wife, the woman I love without measure and who shares my soul, struggled through for months, fearing for her husband and son ... what was I thinking?
"Out like a lamb. All of that for nothing. All because of the bitterness of a few Ritz Carlton hotel employees on the most festive night of the year and their incredibly discourteous, arrogant and aggressive behavior of which I had never experienced in thirty years of travel. All because of three confrontational, intimidating, enraged deputies who wouldn't even consider dialogue, who were so quick to reach for their Tasers and handcuffs when no crime was committed. All because of a prosecutors' office blind to the reality of instances of excessive force by police and the horrendous destruction of innocent lives forever changed...what were they thinking?
"In like a lion. The legal action we are embarking on now will hopefully bring attention to the fact that people cannot and should not be treated this way. I was fortunate to have the resources and will to fight to the end, but there are many who don't and they will forever suffer from the forced compromise of an unfair plea bargain or the threat of sentencing guidelines that demand imprisonment, that hang over one's head like the sword of Damocles. If some good is to come of this, then let it be that the actions of a tiny minority of aggressive, Taser wielding police officers don't tarnish the reputation of the vast majority of officers who proudly serve their communities with honor and sacrifice. I sincerely believe they deserve our utmost respect, but respect is something that must be earned and not demanded with a closed fist or an electrifying weapon ... that's what I'm thinking."
Lifeson will do his first televised interview relating to the arrests on the Canadian music network MuchMoreMusic with Bill Welychka on Saturday June 11th at 1 pm EST.
W O W !
More power to you, Alex, on this battle for justice. I hope he and his family find it.
GO GETTUM ALEX!!
Is this the one that is an alcoholic?
Like you, I am a huge Rush fan (Neil Peart is the greatest drummer in history). Yet, I've never heard a thing about this incident. Do you have details/background my friend?
Holy Smokes! Whisky Tango Foxtrot happened here?
oooookay... there's one side of the story.
What did he do? I'm guessing the police didn't pick him out randomly.
The police were "not interested in dialogue." Are they ever? What idiot tries to "talk his way out of" trouble witht he cops? You do as they say and your nose remains intact.
I'm guessing he is a little more at fault here than he is letting on. I also bet that he could have acted differently and avoided most or all of the trauma.
I wonder how many millions he is gonna get? The Collier family certainly still has hundreds of them.
Thanks for fighting it, Alex.
It's gotta start somewhere, Mr. Lifeson, and I'm very glad you're pioneering this for the rest of us.
Are trying to be funny?
Give 'em hell Alex!!!
no comment until I have some facts. This article just has the Rush guitarist's side.
What was the incident?
That's a pretty stupid and irrelevant question. If you were more familiar with his situation (related articles have been posted on FR), you wouldn't have assumed that he's guity.
Plea deal reached for Rush guitarist, son
Rush guitarist, son enter pleas to reduced charges
Charge against Rush guitarist's son reduced
Witness: Police mistreated Rush guitarist in ruckus
Rush guitarist released after New Year's arrest
Rock band guitarist, family arrested for New Year's Eve scuffle with deputies
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Rush guitarist, family sue Ritz, 3 Collier deputies
By CHRIS W. COLBY, firstname.lastname@example.org, and JOHN HENDERSON, email@example.com
June 2, 2005
A founder of the band Rush, his son and daughter-in-law filed a lawsuit Thursday against the Ritz-Carlton, its security director and three sheriffs deputies stemming from a New Years Eve 2003 altercation at the Naples hotel.
Alex, Justin and Michelle Zivojinovich allege the defendants violated their civil rights, battered and falsely imprisoned them before their arrests on criminal charges that were either later dropped or reduced in court.
Alex Zivojinovich suffered a broken nose during a scrape with the deputies, one of whom he was accused of pushing down a stairwell.
Justin Zivojinovich was roughly subdued and hit with a high-voltage Taser gun repeatedly before his arrest. His father also suffered several Taser hits.
The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Fort Myers, seeks an unspecified amount of monetary damages for injuries, pain and suffering, mental anguish and the costs of their defense to the charges, filed in Collier County Circuit Court.
Michael R.N. McDonnell, a Naples attorney who represented Michelle and Justin Zivojinovich in their criminal cases, said the trio had no comment Thursday. A Canadian production company representing Alex Zivojinovich, known onstage as Alex Lifeson, may later issue a press release.
The suit names as defendants HMC BN Ltd. Partnership, doing business as The Ritz-Carlton in Naples; Frank Barner, the hotel security director; and Collier County sheriffs deputies Christopher Knott, Scott Russell and Amy Stanford.
The altercation that led to the Zivojinoviches arrest began when Justin twice went onstage where musicians were performing. According to the suit, Barner told Justin to not get back on stage or he would be required to leave the hotel.
"Plaintiff Justin strictly complied with that request and never set foot on the stage again, and in fact began peacefully eating his dinner," according to the suit.
Barner then told hotel staff to call 911 and evict Justin. However, Barner never told Justin that, according to the suit.
"Employees of defendant Ritz falsely advised the Collier County Sheriffs Office that plaintiff Justin was engaged in dangerous and destructive behavior, when in truth and in fact that was not true," according to the suit.
The deputies arrived and ordered Justin to gather his belongings so he could be escorted away. But the deputies never gave Justin the chance to leave on his own accord, according to the suit. Instead, they physically restrained him and forced him to walk through a back hallway toward a stairwell leading to a rear entrance.
"During that time, defendants Knott and Stanford applied illegal and unjustified force, and such force was excessive, causing plaintiff Justin severe discomfort and pain," according to the suit.
As he was led away, Justin yanked his right arm from Stanfords grasp to alleviate his discomfort. Stanford and Knott then forced Justin to the floor "with excessive force."
"Defendant Knott then, again without legal authority or justification, applied the effects of a Taser gun consisting of some 50,000 volts of electricity on plaintiff Justins body with excessive force, causing further discomfort and pain," according to the suit. Knott and Russell then hit Justin with the Taser again multiple times.
He was then handcuffed by Barner with assistance from the three deputies.
"Plaintiff Michelle, in fear for the safety of her husband plaintiff Justin, verbally complained about the illegal and excessive force used against her husband and was arrested by defendant Russell without probable cause or any legal authority," according to the suit.
Alex Zivojinovich rushed to his sons aid but "was battered by defendants Stanford, Knott and/or Russell and Tased multiple times by one or more of the defendants."
All three Zivojinoviches then illegally were arrested, handcuffed and taken to the Collier County jail, according to the suit.
The 33-count federal suit alleges that the defendants "acted in unlawful conspiracy with each other to injure plaintiffs."
It alleges civil rights violations through illegal detainment and excessive and unnecessary force on each plaintiff.
The suit also alleges negligence, false imprisonment and battery by the Ritz-Carlton, through Barners actions, on Alex and Justin. And it alleges malicious prosecution of Justin and Michelle.
Naples prosecutors charged Alex with two felony charges of battery on a law enforcement officer. Justin was facing a resisting arrest with violence charge. Each charge was punishable by up to five years in prison upon conviction.
In April, Alex and his son pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor charge and received a year of probation. Michelles charges were dropped earlier by state prosecutors.
Alex Zivojinovich and his son were guests at the $650-a-couple, black-tie bash when the altercation occurred.
Justin agitated hotel security when he got onto a platform where the house band had been performing and started speaking into the microphone, according to courtroom testimony.
That platform was open temporarily as a band led by William Noll was taking a break. Noll was playing alternating sets with Freddy Cole, the brother of the late Nat King Cole.
Cole said he tried to tune out Justin Zivojinovichs remarks after he grabbed the microphone. But he said he clearly remembered Justin Zivojinovich was extremely intoxicated.
Employees of the hotel testified at Justins trial that he was verbally abusive and taunted them when he was asked to leave the platform.
When reached at home on Thursday, Barner hesitated to comment on the suit after being read the allegations relating to him.
"This is the first I heard about this," he said. "Without the company lawyer hearing about it, I dont dare speak."
Ritz officials could not be reached for comment Thursday.
Sheri Mausen, a Sheriffs Office spokeswoman, said she had not seen the lawsuit. Asked what the office felt about the police brutality allegations, she said, "We stand by the deputies and their sworn testimony."
Knott testified he and Stanford were escorting Justin away when he made a move perceived as threatening. Knott said he had a grip on one of Justins arms behind his back, and Stanford had the other. Knott testified Justin wrenched his arm free.
But Senior Circuit Judge Charles T. Carlton wasnt convinced that his actions constituted violence and reduced the charge to a misdemeanor.
Witnesses gave conflicting statements about what happened in the stairwell. The Ritz has security cameras, but none captured the altercation.
Alex suffered the broken nose as he rushed to Justins defense when deputies hit him with the Taser guns. Alex was accused of pushing Stanford down the stairwell, injuring her, and spitting blood on another deputy.
However, John Cannivet, a former Ritz assistant manager, said the deputies were the aggressors.
"It was extreme police brutality," Cannivet said in a recent interview. "The whole time all this was going down, Im thinking, God, what did these people do? It must have been something really bad. It just bothered me."
Rock band guitarist, family arrested for New Year's Eve scuffle with deputies
By JOHN HENDERSON, firstname.lastname@example.org
January 2, 2004
The lead guitarist for a renowned rock band faces criminal charges after a scuffle with Collier County sheriff's deputies at The Ritz-Carlton, Naples, on New Year's Eve.
Alex Zivojinovich, a founding member of Rush, known on stage as Alex Lifeson, was arrested after what deputies describe as a drunken, violent outbreak at the posh hotel.
Zivojinovich, 50, faces six charges that include aggravated battery on a law enforcement officer, resisting an officer with violence, and disorderly intoxication. Also arrested in the brouhaha were his 33-year-old son Justin Zivojinovich and his wife, Michelle, 30.
Deputies say they had to use a stun gun on Alex Zivojinovich, 8787 Bay Colony Drive, Apt. 804 in Naples, and his son during the fracas. And in their reports they accuse Alex Zivojinovich of pushing a female deputy down a hotel stairwell during the struggle, and of spitting blood on a deputy's face.
But his son Justin, who was visiting his father on vacation from Canada, gave a very different account of what happened during an interview Thursday night.
He said his father, who was still in the Collier County jail as of late Thursday, had his nose broken by deputies, and as he was spitting out the blood from the injuries, deputies assaulted him again. He also said his father did not push the female deputy down the stairs as stated in arrest reports.
Instead, Justin Zivojinovich said, the deputy tumbled down the stairs as she pushed him down the stairwell.
He said the trouble began after he got up on the stage where the house band was performing at the hotel.
"I was singing Happy New Year's, that's all I was doing, singing to the whole crowd. That's all I said, 'Happy New Year,'" Justin Zivojinovich said. "Everyone was enjoying themselves. That's when someone apparently started yelling for one of the security guards. There was no violence on our part.
"I was ready to leave. I was asked to leave, and I said, 'OK, I'm going to go. I'll grab my wife and be out of there.' They didn't want that. They didn't want me to leave on a high note. They felt they would lose. They decided to aggravate me. They stunned me, as well as my father, with a stun gun."
Justin Zivojinovich said they have hired Naples defense lawyer Jerry Berry to represent them. Rush has scheduled a global 30th anniversary tour in 2004, and Justin said he did not know whether this arrest might affect those plans.
"If we don't get off of these charges, we're going to start seeking lawsuits against a lot of people," Justin Zivojinovich said.
Arrest reports paint a picture of an intoxicated, unruly, and violent father and son who refused to comply with deputies' orders. The reports said that trouble began after Justin Zivojinovich got up on the band's stage after being warned not to.
The reports state that the 33-year-old Zivojinovich became verbally abusive after being asked to leave the stage. "When approached by hotel Security Supervisor Frank Barner, he said "(Expletive) off, I'm going to sing a song for my wife," according to the arrest report.
The reports said that is when his 50-year-old father came to the defense of his son and became verbally abusive with Barner.
Barner then called sheriff's deputies, and stated that he wanted both men removed from the property and issued trespass warnings.
Collier Sheriff's Deputy Christopher Knott's said in his report that he told Justin Zivojinovich he would be escorting him to the property line and issuing him a trespass warning prohibiting him from returning to Ritz-Carlton property.
"Justin stated that was fine. When Justin and I walked back into the ballroom to retrieve his property, he threw his hat and started screaming obscenities," Knott's report states. "A second male identified as Justin's father, Alex Zivojinovich, approached us and stated that his son wasn't going anywhere."
Knott alleges that he told Alex Zivojinovich that if he didn't move away from them, that he would be arrested for obstruction of justice. "Alex stated, "Take me to jail, I don't care, it's (expletive) New Year's Eve,'" Knott's report states.
Knott contends that Alex Zivojinovich then put his hands on his son's chest and began pushing him in the opposite direction of the way the deputy was escorting him.
"Justin began to struggle and resist. I placed Justin in an arm bar and began escorting him away with the assistance of Cpl. Amy Stanford to avoid any further disturbance. Cpl. Scott Russell was trying to keep Alex and several other members in their party away from us, with little success. As I looked over my right shoulder, I could see Cpl. Russell struggling with several people to include Alex and Justin's wife, Michelle."
Knott's report states that as deputies entered the service stairwell, Justin Zivojinovich began to struggle and swing his right elbow at Stanford's face.
He states that as he escorted Justin Zivojinovich to the ground he felt Alex Zivojinovich pushing into him.
"As the situation began to escalate with several people filling the stairwell, I removed my Taser (stun gun) and warned Alex to keep away. I turned to assist in handcuffing Justin and he began to thrash his body. I warned deputies of my intention to tase the wildly combative Justin."
Knott's report states that after the stun gun was then used on Justin, Alex was screaming obscenities and being extremely violent. Knott says Alex Zivojinovich ripped the police radio off of his uniform, "depriving me of calling for backup units."
Knott states that when Corporal Stanford attempted to pull Alex Zivojinovich away from him, the rock star who arrest reports say stands 6 feet tall and weighs 230 pounds grabbed her and shoved her down the steps, forcing her to fall on her back. Knott said that Stanford suffered injuries that required medical attention.
Alex Zivojinovich won Best Rock Talent in 1983 in the category "Guitar for the Practicing Musician." He was inducted into the Guitar for the Practicing Musician Hall of Fame in May of 1991. His Yugoslavian parents immigrated to Canada. His only formal training was during Rush's early days on the Toronto club circuit.
The Rolling Stone magazine Web site said Rush "carved itself a place in the prog-rock elite through three decades of popular releases."
"The band saw success throughout the '80s on the consistent release of albums, a rigorous touring schedule and a dedicated fan base," the Web site said.
Rush had a string of popular hits in the 1980s, such as the song "Tom Sawyer," from The Moving Pictures album of 1981. Other hits included "Limelight" and "Spirit of the Radio."
If he is right I hope he wins, but I will wait until we hear the rest of the story before jumping on his side. In cases like these usually all contributed in some way to the problem.
Instead of assuming Lifeson is guilty, read the relevant articles posted on FR. This link should work:
Oh, he pled guilty. I guess he is innocent then.
One of the Rush members has been treated for alcoholism. I don't remember which one.
Slow down and consider reading the articles that came before this one. They explain in detail what happened that night. It's not a matter of Lifeson's arrogance or fame going to his head....
Great. Thank you for posting this.
thanks. At work and many sites are blocked. No good guys in this one. Looks like they are all to blame. Alex is just lucky they didn't have the hells angels for security.
God,lololol..can you imagine? ala The Stones? Hahahahaa...
Thanks. I guess he ran into a few of those cops who are not our friends, and I hope to hear how his lawsuit turns out.
At first I was outraged, but then I thought of every teen aged kid with a guitar, like my son for example. Ask any of them if they'd take this guy's talent, fame, and money if it came with a punch in the nose and a couple of tazerings. I bet you get 99.99999 percent F'n A dude from them.
Mighty nice of you to wait.
Too bad the jackboots here could'nt wait to praise the cops when this was first reported.
Yeah, I doubt this has Alex Lifeson wishing he could have been someone other than Alex Lifeson, Rush Axe-man.
Damn rock stars.
Uh, yeah, sure, troll-boy.
It might be a good idea to wait a few days after signing up before posting your first moronic comment.
This way, you likely won't last till sundown.
LMAO..first day posting and look at the screen name you chose...safe money is on a short stay here at FR for ya.
i love the groups music. i hadn't heard about this. exactly happened? sorry to hear of this episode.
i'll check out the posted links.
See ? !
the plea agreement doesn't necesarrily mean he's guilty. it could have been a situation where an innocent plea would have been more costly.
i don't know whether the father and son are guilty or not, but i do know that one of the most dangerous things to the civil liberties of americans is to assume that the police BY DEFINITION cannot be wrong.
Then by all means, do not do so. But you also shouldn't assume that a person who pleads guilty is actually innocent.
actually, if it's in court then, yes, we should.
insofar as personal opinion i think it is wise to refrain from pre-judging either way without a solid basis for doing so.
this is a wise course which seeks to protect the innocent, not the guilty.
always remember, the innocent have suffered greatly when such principles have been ignored or discarded.
just because we are "tough on crime" conservatives does not mean we should neglect the protections of the innocent by being hasty.
my proposition above is in reference specifically to criminal court.
"In April, Alex and his son pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor charge and received a year of probation.
Oh, he pled guilty. I guess he is innocent then."
A no contest plea is not the same as a guilty plea.
Oh no. He was innocent. That's why he pleaded "no contest" to the charges rather than "not guilty".
that very well may be the case. believe it or not, it happens.
ESPECIALLY when defendants (not speaking of these guys here) are ill advised by over worked public defenders who don't have a vested interest.
it also happens when people are "scared" into thinking something worse can happen if they stick to a not guilty plea even though there innocent. surely you must know this.
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