BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – A man remains in critical condition after being found outside Mollys Pub, in Buffalo’s University District, last week. News 4 has learned from police sources that Bill Sager was found outside the bar, unconscious, in police-issued handcuffs.
Sager suffered a traumatic brain injury after being pushed down a flight of stairs inside the bar. Jeff Basil, a 35-year-old Amherst man, is charged with brutally attacking the Air National Guardsman on Sunday, May 11.
Court documents filed by Sager’s family say the airman remains in the ICU at ECMC in a coma and his prognosis is poor. Basil was arrested on Saturday and pleaded not guilty to the attack Sunday morning. Basil stood alongside his attorney Joel Daniels, when the judge issued an order of protection against him, on behalf of Sager.
Sager’s family is also asking a judge to order Basil and two others associated with Mollys, Norman Habib and Michael V. Miranda, Jr., to preserve evidence, such a video recordings. The state liquor license for Mollys had been issued to Habib as NHJB Inc.; Miranda is listed as the owner of the Main Street property where the bar is located.
It is still unclear what led up to the assault. A source close to the investigation says there was no argument or fight between the two men.
From the two video cameras inside the bar, investigators have learned that Sager was standing at the top of the staircase with his back to the floor below. Basil allegedly shoved Sager, who went flying, crashing down to the floor below, his head smashing on the floor. According to a source close to the investigation, the video shows “a shocking view of [Sager] landing.”
Investigators are studying the videos to get a clearer view of the shoving. They also have at least two eye witnesses who told them that Basil shoved Sager.
Three people are then seen carrying the unconscious Sager outside.
Sources say the video shows the trio as Robert Eloff, an off-duty Buffalo Police officer, a bouncer, and a third person investigators are trying to determine whether or not it was Adam O’Shei, another off-duty Buffalo Police officer who was on the scene.
Police officers are not allowed to work inside bars as security or bouncers but are allowed to work outside. Sources tell News 4 that Eloff and O’Shei claim they were working security outside the bar, and when their shift ended, they went inside to drink.
After helping carry Sager outside, Officer Eloff then set him up against a wall and handcuffed him. A friend accompanying Sager held up his head so he would not suffocate. Another witness provided investigators cell phone video of the scene outside the bar.
According to UB Police Chief Gerald Schoenle, Jr., Eloff worked for University Police as an officer from October 2005 until “he resigned from service” in May 2007. Eloff is the same officer accused of slapping a woman’s cell phone out of her hand at the St. Patrick’s Day parade. The incident was caught on camera and Internal Affairs is investigating.
Internal Affairs is also investigating any involvement Eloff or O’Shei had in the assault or the aftermath at Mollys.
Police would not comment on the status of the investigation, though Chief of Detectives Dennis Richards said, “What we’re doing is getting to the bottom of what took place, how it took place, who’s involved including the presence of two police officers who are now on paid administrative leave.”
The bar was closed last Friday by a city ordinance that allows the police department or the mayor to close an establishment that serves alcohol, under emergency circumstances. The State Liquor Authority is also investigating.
Basil’s role at the bar is unclear, as he is not listed as an owner. News 4 has learned he has a criminal past, including drug-related charges from 2003 in Cheektowaga including criminal possession with intent to sell, possession of a controlled substance and criminal possession of drug paraphernalia. A few years before that, he was arrested and charged with driving without a license.
Basil remains behind bars Monday on $250,000 cash or bond; he is due back in court on Friday morning for a felony hearing.
The Basil family, who owns car dealerships in Western New York, says they are not related to the suspect.
Meantime family and friends are praying for Sager. His colleagues at the Niagara Falls Airbase posted a photograph of the 107th and 914th Airlift Wings, with the hashtag #PrayforBill. Friends say Sager would never have done anything to jeopardize his career and family.
If you have any information, including video or pictures from inside Mollys last Sunday morning, you’re asked to contact Buffalo Police.