An after-work gathering with friends turned sour for Jason Preston, 23, of Knoxville. Joining up with a group celebrating a friend’s birthday, Preston went to the Red Iguana in downtown Knoxville’s Old City shortly after leaving work on Saturday, July 2. After gathering on the patio, the friends went inside the club and found seats near the food tables.
The sequence of events following their entry into that part of the club has Preston outraged and fearful. According to Preston, there was a fight near their table. Parties to that altercation were unknown to anyone in his group. As the disruptive characters were removed from the premises, security personnel spoke to Preston.
“They asked me if I had a problem,” says Preston. “They kept telling me to ‘stay on this side’ despite us telling them that we weren’t involved in the fight. As they were walking away, I remarked that we were just there to have a good time.”
Preston says the security personnel then turned on him, demanding that he repeat what he said in a hostile tone. What followed the repeated questioning is recounted here in Preston’s own words: “They jerked me up by my collar and punched me in the face. After they slung [sic] me around, they put me in a headlock. I kept asking them what was going on and telling them I didn’t do anything wrong,” insists Preston.
He says that he was then pushed down on the concrete steps and lost consciousness. Witnesses heard slurs regarding sexual orientation addressed to Preston and observed the security personnel kneeing, punching, and kicking him in the face despite his friends’ efforts to pull the two men away. Following this, the friends were escorted outside the club.
A formal complaint was made to the police later at the University of Tennessee Memorial Hospital where Preston received emergency treatment. He received treatment from Dr. Robb McLean for two nasal fractures, numerous bruises, and traumatic head injury.
The investigation is being headed by Detective Joseph Huckabee at the Knoxville Police Department.