Jan 032013

Christopher Hyer (via WWL-TV)

A brawl involving a dozen people or more on New Year’s morning outside two controversial Uptown bars woke up neighbors around Wisner Park and ended with the arrest of a former Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s deputy on charges of stabbing one of the other combatants.

The brawl started between two Lyons Street bars, Grits and F&M’s, after a group of men were told to leave around 5 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 1, police and neighbors said. At least a dozen people were outside by the accounts of several neighbors, with men and women fighting and yelling but slowly dispersing until police showed up. When they arrived, they found one man had been stabbed in the leg by an unknown object, and they arrested Christopher Hyer, 27, on a single charge of aggravated battery.

Hyer, who bonded out of Orleans Parish Jail shortly after his arrest, had been asked to leave one of the bars with two of his cousins and was walking back to a car when a bottle came flying past his head, his attorney, Patrick Giraud of New Orleans, said Hyer told him. He turned to see about 10 men running toward him, one put him in a choke hold and another grabbed his arms, Giraud said.

The stabbing victim had Hyer in a headlock when witnesses overheard the victim tell him, “If you stop hitting me, I’ll let you go,” according to a police report.

“At that time, one witness stated that he observed the a/s (arrested subject) stab the victim in the leg with what he believed to be a knife,” the report states. “The witness stated that the victim then fell to the ground and asked, “Did you stab me?” as blood began to pour out of the victim’s leg.”

According to police, multiple witnesses identified Hyer as the perpetrator.

Hyer served for five years as a deputy with the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office, until he resigned this summer following allegations that he had drunkenly crashed a patrol car in Metairie while off-duty. That case is still pending, and Giraud called it an unfortunate end to a good career. The current charges, he said, are out of character for his client, a veteran who served in Afghanistan, and they hope to find video surveillance of the street that will shed more light on the situation.

“He’s actually a really good guy,” Giraud said. “I know him personally, and I don’t see this as anything Chris would do.”

John Howell, whose Laurel Street home is across Wisner Park from the 4800 block of Annunciation where the fight took place, said he awoke early and looked outside to see numerous people from one end of the park to the other. Everyone was yelling, he said, and the women’s voices particularly stood out.

“There was some harsh words being exchanged up and down the block, just the kind of yelling that drunks do when they get upset at each other,” Howell said.

A Nashville resident who was staying with a friend who lives in the 4800 block of Annunciation said she was awakened around 5:20 a.m. by all the noise outside her window. She saw one man limping and holding his leg, still somewhat fighting with another man, she said. The men were yelling at each other about the stabbing, and the women were screaming about calling the police, she said.

“They were screaming at each other and their girlfriends were screaming at each other,” said the woman, who asked not to be identified in the article. “Everyone was really drunk, and not really making sense. I don’t even think they knew what they were fighting about.”

Flo Grant, who also lives in the 4800 block of Annunciation, said she heard people yelling about cutting each other and slashing car tires, so she woke up to check on her own car and saw people running up and down the block. Such disturbances are not uncommon around the park just before dawn, she said, speculating that people end up at the Lyons Street bars after other establishments close.

“They party hearty down here, I tell you that,” Grant said.

F&M’s was closed early Wednesday evening when a reporter tried to visit, and a bartender at Grits said he hadn’t been on duty New Year’s and wasn’t sure what happened. Howell, the Laurel Street resident, said that he and his neighbors are used to such scenes, and that what made New Year’s morning was simply how long it went on.

“It’s part of the package,” Howell said. “There’s a lot of upsides to living there, but there are some downsides too.”

This article was reported with our partners at WWL-TV.

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