Police said 100 people were involved in a fight that broke out at bar close early Sunday morning.
But one of the four men arrested in the fight said he was a victim of a crime, not a perpetrator.
“We were the victims that got treated like criminals,” said Erik Vazquez-Hernandez, of Cedar Rapids.
Police were called to The Vault, 208 Second Ave. SE, at 1:44 a.m. Sunday for a large disturbance. Sgt. Cristy Hamblin said responding officers encountered several large fights – involving more than 100 people in total – going on and one man on the ground who appeared to be injured. Police said the ongoing brawl made it difficult to get to the injured man.
Police said Vazquez-Hernandez began yelling at the officers and attempted to prevent them from reaching the injured man. After refusing to get out of the way, police took Vazquez-Hernandez into custody.
Another man, Eric Denney, Jr., 28, of Cedar Rapids, refused to let officers get to the injured man and was also provoking others. He was also taken into custody.
After using pepper spray to break up the fights, police encountered 21-year-old Luis Guerra, Jr., of Cedar Rapids, who was grabbing at officers as they were making an arrest. He was taken into custody as well.
A woman, 19-year-old Alexsandra Pimentel, of Cedar Rapids, was cited for interference with official acts during the melee when she tried to prevent officers from arresting her boyfriend.
Another man, 47-year-old Patrick Harris, of Cedar Rapids, was arrested after the fight when he refused to leave the scene and threatened officers.
All four men were arrested on suspicion of interference with official acts. Vazquez-Hernandez, Denney and Guerra face an additional charge of public intoxication and Denney also faces one count of disorderly conduct.
Vazquez-Hernandez said he, Guerra and Denney were part of a group celebrating his cousin’s 21st birthday on Saturday. The cousin, Ricardo “Rick” Vazquez, was the victim of the assault.
After starting out the evening at the Cancun restaurant in southwest Cedar Rapids, Vazquez-Hernandez said the group attended the mixed martial arts fights at Veterans Memorial Stadium. When that event ended early due to rain, they returned to Cancun before heading to downtown Cedar Rapids.
When the bar closed, the group was outside of the Vault and Vazquez-Hernandez said he saw some men pushing his brother, 21-year-old Jesse Vazquez-Hernandez.
“I saw a whole crowd of people around my brother,” he said. “I got blindsided a couple of times. I got hit; I got pushed into the street. I looked over to my left; my cousin was already knocked out…right in the middle of Second Avenue.”
Vazquez-Hernandez said he was just trying to check on his cousin when police arrived. He said officers never asked him what happened or if he was all right.
“We were treated like criminals,” he said.
For his part, Rick Vazquez, who lives in Cedar Falls, said he remembers little after leaving the bar.
“I just know there was an altercation,” he said. “I’m not a fighter. I was just trying to grab one of my cousins and try to leave. Next thing I know, I’m waking up on a stretcher.”
Vazquez said medical staff at Mercy Medical Center told him he had been knocked out. He said Monday he is still suffering from the side effects of a concussion.
Police said Vazquez refused to file charges for the assault, but his cousin, Erik Vazquez-Hernandez, said he plans to check with other downtown businesses to see if they have surveillance footage that backs up his side of the story.
Hamblin said the police are checking into the involvement of other parties in the fight, but no charges have been filed.[mqMap key="1IHz" width="670" height="420" src="http://www.mapquest.com/embed?icid=mqdist_mb_wp&c=1IHz&maptype=map&zm=15&cr=41.97806,-91.66745000000002&projection=sm&showScale=false"]My New Map[/mqMap]