A security guard who had been charged with siccing a dog on a Black man while working in a New Jersey restaurant and nightclub will face no jail time. Prosecutors decided to reduce his charge from second-degree aggravated assault to a lesser weapons charge.
The prosecution identified the dog as the security guard’s weapon in the violent 2021 confrontation that left then-26-year-old Khalif Hunter, of Burlington City, New Jersey, bleeding from bite wounds in the club’s parking lot.
Court documents show Steven T. Rudy, 34, of Virginia pleaded guilty to a fourth-degree charge of unlawful possession of a weapon (the canine) before Superior Court Judge Samuel Ragonese in Gloucester County, The Philadelphia Inquirer reports.
Under the plea agreement negotiated by his lawyers, Rudy will receive 14 months of probation and must participate in a psychological evaluation.
Rudy will also have to undergo recommended treatments, anger management classes at a veterans hospital, and pay some sort of restitution to comply with his plea agreement.
The events leading to the July 29, 2021, confrontation reportedly began when Hunter objected that he was being singled out because of his race when he was asked to take off his baseball cap because the club, Adelphia, had a no-hats dress code.
A 15-second video clip from around 1 a.m. that night appears to show a young Black man thought to be Hunter on the ground in the parking lot and surrounded by club staff and security guards — including Rudy and the dog — at some point after being told his cap was not allowed. Hunter gets to his feet, yelling at the staff and walking away, and then screaming “p##sy” at Rudy.
With his dog straining at the leash, Rudy rushes toward Hunter, who backpedals and falls just as the guard and dog close on him. The video abruptly ends there.
Despite the video not showing every detail, the prosecution was able to establish the man did “suffer several puncture wounds due to bites from the canine.”
An affidavit of probable cause stated the man was bitten on the lower right calf thrice and once on the inner right thigh. It also indicted Rudy for his role in instructing the dog to attack.
Hunter said Rudy pinned him to the ground pressing his knee into his abdomen before he commanded the dog to bite him. Hunter claims Rudy yelled, “Live bite.”
Loretta Winters, president of the Gloucester County chapter of the NAACP, released a statement regarding the plea deal.
“While a court settlement is no compensation for his reputation’s pain, embarrassment, and damage, it is just dessert for the author of the dog attack and Adelphia,” she said.
When video of Hunter’s encounter at Adelphia was posted online it caught the eyes of the African-American community, the Deptford Township Police Department, and Gloucester County Prosecutor’s Office.
Many Blacks believed the security guard assaulted the man with his canine in an act of racialized violence.
As a result of this incident, a series of protests were ignited throughout 2022, according to NJ.com.
Activists appalled by Rudy’s actions called for the community to boycott the Adelphia Restaurant.
Despite the various demonstrations and Hunter’s assertions, the prosecution did not introduce racial bias into the charges or the case.
An investigation of the incident discovered Rudy did not work directly for the restaurant but was hired by a security firm contracted by Adelphia.
According to police reports, Rudy and the canine “engaged a patron and were subsequently involved in an altercation with that patron, both at the front entrance and then in the restaurant’s parking lot.”
Lawyers for the restaurant released a statement on the incident after it happened.
“Adelphia regrets any instance where anyone is injured on its premises,” said the attorney.
He added that a “new security firm is in place which does not plan to include canine protection in its security plan.”
Rudy is scheduled to be sentenced on Tuesday, May 9, though he’s not expected to serve any time.