Kulwa Apara says she was attacked by security guards while attending a Bone Thugs-N-Harmony concert at the Catalyst Nightclub two years ago. On Nov. 17, Apara filed a lawsuit, claiming long-lasting emotional and physical effects. She is seeking $2 million in damages, according to her legal representation, Edi Kristopher and Bryan Harrison, personal injury attorneys from Concord. She is also asking for financial compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, loss of earning capacity and emotional distress.
Apara says she was attending the concert on Dec. 21, 2019, to which she purchased a VIP ticket that gave her access to the balcony overlooking the stage. When she presented her ticket, a worker told her that a “VIP” stamp on her hand would be the only credential she would need.
Shortly after the music began, she says a male security guard shoved her from behind and said she needed a green wristband to be there, and told her to leave. Nobody else in the balcony had such a wristband, Apara says, so she refused to go; the security guard returned with a female colleague. According to Apara, when she refused to leave again, the male security guard put her in a headlock while the female colleague kicked her repeatedly. Two fellow concertgoers stepped in and broke up the melee. However, Apara says the situation with the security guards escalated outside of the venue.
She says that Santa Cruz Police Department officers tried to discourage her from filing a report and asked her if she was drunk. She also says the officers were seen high-fiving the security guards.
The Catalyst and Joel Nelson Productions, which promoted the concert that night, are named in the lawsuit. Neither responded to a request for comment, and neither had an attorney listed in court filings.
The Catalyst hires its own team of security guards, SCPD spokeswoman Joyce Blaschke says. Club owners have declined to comment about what training they undergo.
SCPD has said that their report lists Apara as a victim. At the time, Santa Cruz County District Attorney Jeff Rosell said that there was insufficient evidence to prosecute anyone.
SCPD launched an internal investigation after the incident, which is now under internal review by a deputy chief, Blaschke says. Any resolution, however, will be a personnel matter, she adds.
In the complaint, Kristopher says that the Catalyst security guards’ demeanor “constitutes outrageous conduct in that it exceeded all bounds of common decency usually tolerated by a civilized society.”
The complaint also notes that the security guards “acted with an improper and evil mode amounting to malice.”
Harrison says that the concert was the first time Apara had attended an event by herself and that she paid extra to get away from the crowds.
“It was a big deal for her,” he says. “You have to think about the effects that this will have on her moving forward in life.”
The case is scheduled for a March 18 case management conference.