Utah restaurateur who sprayed smoker in face with fire extinguisher says he’s leaving the eatery; lawyer says he might have a defense against assault

USA Utah News

The Salt Lake City restaurant co-owner seen on video dousing a smoker with a fire extinguisher wrote that he’s sorry Monday, though he also offered a defense of himself and said he is leaving the business.

In the video posted Friday to Facebook, Alex Jamison, 32, is seen asking a smoker puffing near his restaurant on Gallivan Plaza if he’ll put out his cigarette. When the the smoker keeps dragging, Jamison fires a quick burst from a fire extinguisher, dousing the smoker in the face.

Keep an eye out for this guy at the Gallivan Center. Need to get his info. Assaulted me and ran from the scene before…

Posted by Jon Bird on Friday, September 20, 2019

Monday, Jamison wrote a lengthy Facebook post. After introducing himself as the man in the video, Jamison wrote he is leaving the three vegan businesses he co-owned. He didn’t specify the terms under which he was departing.

Jamison then said he was sorry for what he did, but he also offered a defense for his actions.

“Was my behavior on Friday the right way to handle the situation?” Jamison wrote. “Of course not. Am I sorry? Absolutely. Did I mean to cause that man harm or pain? Definitely not. Does he deserve compassion? I’d love to give it to him. But I’m done groveling.

“I can be wrong, admit I was wrong, and still defend myself.”

Jamison wrote that he has previously asked the man to “walk 30 feet south to the ‘Designated Smoking Area.’”

“Never have I received the smug refusal that I got on Friday,” Jamison wrote. “Never have I had someone continue to blow smoke in my face, to give excuses as to why they’ve got the right to smoke on private property that isn’t theirs. With friends hanging out, not working, also smoking.

“Was my escalation warranted? Stepping out with the extinguisher was sure to send the message though. Who in their right mind would continue to smoke with a warning like that? I was defending my lungs. My customers’ lungs. My neighbors’ customers. The dry grasses right next to him. The building. The street from litter.”

Toward the end of the post, Jamison writes that his “retirement gift” from his co-founder is $5 for every comment on the Facebook post, up to $5,000, to be donated to an “animal rights organization.”

After the video spread across the internet, the restaurant near where the confrontation happened, Boltcutter, began receiving negative reviews online and even calls for a boycott.

Salt Lake City police Sgt. Keith Horrocks said emergency medical personnel examined the smoker at the scene. Detectives are investigating whether the episode is a misdemeanor assault, Horrocks said. The smoker didn’t appear to have suffered enough injury to consider a felony assault, he added.

The case will be forwarded to Salt Lake City’s prosecutor when the investigation is finished.

Utah criminal defense attorney Clayton Simms, who viewed the video, said that while a prosecutor might file an assault or disorderly conduct charge, Jamison might have an argument. He might contend that he was trying to stop a crime — a violation of Utah’s indoor clean air laws.

But the jury would have to weigh whether Jamison’s actions were proportionate to the crime he was responding to, Simms said.

“You look at the reasonableness of the force,” Simms said. “So maybe that’s an analysis in this case. Is the force reasonable?”

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