Three gay men are suing a Newport Beach restaurant and its owners because they believe they were discriminated against and battered during an incident that was partially caught on camera earlier this month.
The confrontation that the lawsuit describes as an incidence of “gay bashing” occurred at a restaurant inside the Balboa Inn, at 105 Main St., on April 13.
The men decided to dine at the Siena restaurant for the first time that night and possibly grab a drink. When they went to the bar, a female bartender made faces at them and created a ruse for refusing to serve them because they are gay, the complaint alleges.
After she examined one of the alleged victim’s ID, she called it “fake” and asked a security guard or bouncer (referred to as a “criminal thug” in the lawsuit) to kick them out.
When the men asked to speak to the manager, the bartender allegedly shouted gay slurs, according to the lawsuit.
Video shows one of the patrons being grabbed by the security guard and physically removed from the restaurant.
The man then shoves the patron outside and the patron ends up on the floor, the video shows. The man then writhes on the floor in pain and asks to be taken home.
Angel Bonilla, the patron seen being pushed out of the restaurant in the video, told KTLA that as he was being taken to a hospital in an ambulance, he tried to recall what he did to upset the bartender.
“Maybe the way I looked at her, maybe the way I dressed, maybe my body language,” Bonilla said. “I still don’t understand. All I want to know from her is why. What did we do? How did we make her feel so angry toward us?”
The lawsuit alleges that the bartender and security guard have a “pattern of disrespectful and violent behavior towards gays and minorities.”
The complaint accuses the employees of assault, battery, emotional distress, false imprisonment and violation of civil rights. The plaintiffs and their attorney are seeking at least $3 million in damages.
Colton Moyer, who was also involved in the dispute, said it was one of the most harrowing experiences of his life.
“The most terrifying thing I’ve probably ever been through once I realized what actually was happening,” he said.
The Newport Beach Police Department is investigating the incident and is asking for help from the public to find the “suspect.”
Two men were allegedly battered inside and in front of the restaurant and both were injured, police said in a news release Thursday. Officials provided a photo of the man seen in the video pushing one of the alleged victim on the floor. He is described as being between 40 and 55 years old, about 6 feet tall and weighs about 200 pounds.
Police are asking the man and any possible witnesses to come forward. Anyone with information about the incident can call Detective Rick Henry at 949-644-3790.
KTLA reached out to the Balboa Inn’s owners on Thursday, but did not hear back. Employees declined to comment on the incident.
WARNING: Below videos includes graphic language and content.