Four of seven men who were arrested in December 2009 in a roundup that Arizona law enforcement officials branded “Operation Quiet Riot” were acquitted yesterday in Kingman, Arizona.
The four men were Gerald Roy Smith, Dale Leroy Hormuth, Stephen Michael Helland, and Rudolfo John “Rudy” Martinez. All four were accused of rioting and assisting a criminal street gang. Two additional men, James Troy “Stoney” Snider and Clifford Daniel “Dan Da Man” Balentine are scheduled for trial on the same charges May 1. The seventh desperado, George Edward “Joby” Walters pled guilty to the charges last summer and was sentenced to 30 months in prison.
The “riot” was a fight June 11, 2009 at Lazy Harry’s Sunshine Saloon (in video below) in Bullhead City, Arizona. Bullhead City faces Laughlin, Nevada across the Colorado River. Police stated that five Hells Angels ( Smith, Hormuth, Helland, Martinez and Walters) and two members of the Desert Road Riders Motorcycle Club (Snider and Balentine) attacked two members of the Vagos Motorcycle Club. The fight ended quickly and did no damage to the bar. No one was arrested until “Quiet Riot.” Reportedly, the fight started when Hells Angels approached the two Vagos, politely asked them to leave and the Vagos courteously declined.
At the time of those arrests a police spokesman named Ernie Severson said the fight had put the general public “at risk.” “Two females climbed over a railing and contemplated jumping down 20 to 30 feet to get away, if that tells you what it was like,” Severson elaborated.
The fight precipitated a six month long crackdown on bikers in Mohave County, Arizona. Members of a State Gang Task Force called G.II.T.E.M. (for Arizona Gang and Immigration Intelligence Team Enforcement Mission) mercilessly persecuted every biker they could find for minor and sometimes entirely imaginary offenses. During the two season long crackdown police harassed members of both the Patriot Guard and HOG for wearing “colors.” A Kingman police spokesman named Bob Fisk told the Kingman Daily Miner “that bikers aren’t particularly a problem in Kingman, but he’s worried that if police aren’t on top of the situation, the problems with riders in Bullhead City could spread to Kingman.” The “problems” he meant was the brief fist fight between grown men at Lazy Harry’s.
The trial took three weeks. Jeff James, one of the defense lawyers, told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that the men might have been convicted if the charges had been disorderly conduct. “I just thought it was never a riot,” James told the paper. “It was an altercation between a couple of people in a bar that just happened to have Hells Angels cuts on with other motorcycle gang members, but it just wasn’t a riot.”
Defense attorney Christian Ackerley said, “It’s been my belief all along, and I said this during my closing argument, that I believe the reason this case was prosecuted was because of the result of pressure put on the county attorney’s office by law enforcement. They have an agenda, and that agenda is against the Hells Angels.”