BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – An eyewitness who as in Mollys Pub in Buffalo the night an airman was shoved down a flight of stairs is coming forward on the same day that two off-duty officers who were working security were suspended without pay.
Donald Hall is a friend of Air National Guardsman Bill Sager, the man who was assaulted on May 11. Hall called 911 for assistance for Sager but was arrested for trespassing when police arrived.
Hall, 29, would not speak with News 4 on camera. With the trespassing charges dropped, Hall now becomes a prime witness in the case surrounding Mollys Pub.
Hall stood in the background as his attorney Tom Hurley detailed the attack on Sager at Mollys Pub, Mother’s Day morning. Hall and Sager were together at the bar.
Sources say B-District officer Rob Eloff and officer Adam O’Shei were working security outside the bar, and at some point in the evening, they went inside to drink. Hurley references the off-duty officers when he discusses his client’s experience.
“My client saw his friend falling down the stairs with his eyes already closed, crack his head open from the stairs and then be dragged out of the bar by the police while he was bleeding,” Hurley said.
According to Hurley, Hall and Sager stuck to themselves prior to the push. He says nothing preceded Sager being pushed down the stairs; it’s his understanding it was unprovoked.
Hall called 911 after witnessing Sager fall. He followed the off-duty cops, dragging the handcuffed Sager, outside. But when the police arrived, it was Hall who wound up in handcuffs, thrown in jail, for trespassing.
“When they cuffed him they put him right by the police car. He sat there and watched his friend bleed from the nose and ears,” Hurley explained. “He’s very upset and his friend might be dying in the hospital and he had to watch it.”
The trespassing charge was backed up by embattled Eloff. Sources tell News 4 Eloff was inside the bar, despite it being against police protocol for an officer to be working security inside any bar.
Eloff was the subject of a News 4 investigation, almost three weeks ago. A woman shooting a cell phone video says he smacked her phone out of her hand and stomped on it, after the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in downtown Buffalo in March.
Both Eloff and O’Shei, who had been on administrative leave with pay, were suspended without pay on Tuesday.
Hall pleaded not guilty to the trespassing charge. It was ultimately dismissed during a brief hearing Tuesday morning in Buffalo City Court. Hurley called it a ‘joke of a charge.’
“It was obviously a wrongful arrest. My client should never have been put in jail in the first place and it’s a shame that this is what happened.”
At least two witnesses say 35-year-old Jeffrey Basil pushed Sager in the chest from the top of a staircase. Basil is in jail on the assault charge.
The city shut down Mollys under an emergency order and the State Liquor Authority is investigating. News 4 has learned Basil was arrested in 2003 on drug charges, but according to the SLA, he is technically and legally a “manager” at Mollys. In 2011, Judge Penny Wolfgang granted Basil a “Certificate of Relief from Disabilities,” which means some of the restrictions placed on him when he was convicted on those drug charges in 2004 would be lifted.
That certificate removed “all bars to employment,” except that Basil is not eligible for public office.
Sager’s family is taking legal action after the brutal attack. Sager remains in the ICU at ECMC with a traumatic brain injury, and his prognosis is poor.
The Basil family, who owns car dealerships in Western New York, says they are not related to the suspect.