Red Carpet Bouncer Cleared

A former bouncer at the 550-capacity Red Carpet Nightclub in St. Cloud, Minn., was found innocent of manslaughter in the death of a man following a fight outside the bar last April.

The jury deliberated about two hours July 24th before deciding Paul Buboltz did not use excessive force in holding down Justin Smiley while waiting for police.

Smiley, 28, suffered brain damage after the April 2005 scuffle, which left him in a coma, and died 18 days later. Autopsy results showed Smiley died from strangulation.

Defense attorney Joe Friedberg told the jury in his closing arguments that Smiley’s blood alcohol level, aggressive actions toward Buboltz and a previous heart condition led to cardiac arrest and the coma.

The prosecution claimed Buboltz used a headlock on Smiley for six minutes, leading to his death.

The former bouncer testified that he was doing his job by holding Smiley down. Smiley was kicked out of the club earlier that night for being drunk. His return led to the scuffle.

“I feel bad for the situation because you have sympathy towards a person. A person just died. You feel bad,” Buboltz said. “But at the same time I knew I handled the situation the way I thought it needed to be handled.”

Smiley’s history of heavy drinking and altercations with downtown bar employees was part of the evidence admitted at trial.