Bouncer found not guilty

UPDATE: 8:45 p.m.

Jonathan Bruce, head of security at Kelowna's Liquid Zoo Lounge & Gentlemen's Club, was found not guilty of aggravated assault Thursday night. 

Bruce was charged after he hit Rhett Miller with a single strike on the evening of Nov. 22, 2015 outside of the bar, leaving Miller with major head trauma that took him months to recover from. 

After beginning their deliberations Thursday afternoon, the jury reached their unanimous decision by 8 p.m.

While the strike that dropped Miller was caught on surveillance footage, Bruce's defence counsel, Cory Armour, urged the jury to consider Bruce was acting in self defence, as the few seconds before the strike were not captured on video.

Armour argued the Crown had not proved beyond a reasonable doubt that Bruce's punch was not thrown in self defence. 

Bruce and Miller were friends prior to the 2015 incident, and the two appeared to be on friendly terms throughout the night, before the punch was thrown. 

Bruce declined to comment on the verdict. 

This isn't the first time Bruce has been charged for an incident that occurred while he was working at the bar. 

Bruce was charged with slamming a bar patron into a wall after the the Liquid Zoo had closed on Jan. 15, 2016, less than two months after the incident with Miller.

In June, the Crown dropped the charges against Bruce after he signed a peace bond, agreeing to good behaviour in exchange for no criminal record.

ORIGINAL: 6 p.m.

A jury has yet to decide whether a local bouncer is guilty of aggravated assault, after he hit a bar patron,  leaving him with major head trauma.

Jonathan Bruce, the head of security at the Liquid Zoo nightclub, hit Rhett Miller in the head on the evening of Nov. 22, 2015, in an alleyway outside the bar. 

The punch dropped Miller to the ground, and he was rushed to the hospital. He wasn’t cleared to go back to work until seven months later due to his injuries, and he still experiences headaches today. 

The jury began their deliberations at about 2:30 p.m. Thursday afternoon. 

In his closing statement, Cory Armour, defence counsel for Bruce, pointed to the couple of seconds before Miller was hit, as Miller and Bruce left the bar and entered the alleyway, that wasn't captured on surveillance footage.

Armour said that in those few seconds, Miller could have raised his hand to Bruce, forcing the bouncer to act in self defence. This was Bruce's explanation to Miller’s friend following the incident, and he later told the same thing to Miller’s wife when he visited the injured man at the hospital.

Miller and Bruce had known each other prior to the night in question, and Miller testified the two had always been on friendly terms. 

Surveillance footage from inside the bar appears to show the two men having congenial conversations on the night of the incident. Due to his head injury, Miller has no memory of being at the Liquid Zoo that evening. 

“Some of you are probably sitting there feeling a little unsettled at the end of the day and saying 'I still don't really know what happened, I don't really know what occurred after they stepped outside,’” Armour told the jury in his closing statement. “All the witnesses agree, everything was fine, they weren't having a fight, Mr. Bruce was friends with Mr. Miller.”

Bruce called no evidence in his defence at the trial.  

Armour argued that Bruce isn’t required to prove he acted in self defence, but the Crown must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Bruce wasn’t acting in self defence when he threw the punch. Armour says the Crown hasn't proven this. 

“This case is entirely about two things, self defence and the presumption of innocence and how they are linked to one another,” Armour said. 

Armour also highlighted Bruce’s request to his employer after the incident occurred that all bouncers wear body cameras while they're working, a move which has since been employed by the bar. 

“Whatever occurred that we can't see on the camera, for the future, Mr. Bruce wants to be able to show everybody, here's what happened," Armour said.

If a verdict isn't reached Thursday evening, deliberation will resume Friday morning. 

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