Former Bier Garden employee Michael Plemmons, arrested after a controversial fracas with an Alcohol Law Enforcement agent, pleaded guilty on Dec. 15 to assault with a deadly weapon on a government official, resisting a public officer and simple assault, court documents show. Plemmons will serve 120 days supervised probation plus a year unsupervised.
The charges derive from a May incident in which ALE Agent David Miller was assaulted while trying to ticket Bier Garden employees for drinking after hours, authorities say. Plemmons attacked Miller, striking him with his fist, grappling with him and biting his finger, according to the ALE’s account.
ALE Supervisor Alan Page says he’s satisfied with the outcome. “The important thing in a case like this, to me, is if our agent is happy: As far as I know, he is,” Page told Xpress. “Charges are commonly plea-bargained down in the court system, but there was still definitely a cost to [Plemmons and then Manager Malcolm Knighten‘s] actions.”
In a 911 call at the time, however, Knighten asserted that Miller was harassing Bier Garden employees and hadn’t identified himself. In the call, Knighten said he didn’t believe Miller was a law-enforcement officer. Miller can be heard telling Plemmons, “You’re going to get maced for real, dude.” Miller is still on active duty in Asheville, Page reports.
In September, Knighten, who struck Miller with a barstool, pleaded guilty to assault with a deadly weapon, selling an alcoholic beverage after hours and resisting a public officer. He received nonactive probation and had to perform community service.
Attorney Keith Hanson, who represented Knighten, notes that from his client’s point of view, “What he saw when he came out into the bar he was managing was an altercation taking place, and he reacted to that. I don’t believe he thought Agent Miller was an officer,” Hanson told Xpress.
Knighten, says Hanson, took a substantial hit from the incident. “He lost his job [and] it took him awhile to get back on his feet. He pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor; he was charged with a felony. I think we were able to demonstrate that Malcolm lost the position he loved [and] soiled what had been a great reputation. I think we were able to show to the judge that he had a lot of support in the community, that he had a clean criminal record and was a person of good character. Malcolm was in a position where he saw a bad situation, he reacted to that in a way he felt at the time was appropriate.”
As for why Knighten and Hanson made the decision not to go forward to trial, “Our goal in this case was to keep Mr. Knighten out of prison, and I saw this negotiation as a way to do that, to make certain,” the attorney explains.
Plemmons was also charged with interfering with the inspection of a licensed premise, selling alcoholic beverages after hours and assault inflicting serious injury, but those charges were dropped.