ABC’s 20/20 Sheds Light on Harrah’s Casino Assaults

The award-winning investigative journalism program 20/20 broadcast a report on August 8, 2014 at 10 p.m., EDT, regarding the alleged pattern of abusive conduct, detailed in a series of complaints filed in state and Federal court, by Harrah’s Atlantic City security guards.
An abridged version of the report aired this morning on ABC “Good Morning America”.

The newscaster describes the video of one incident as a “knock-down, drag-out brawl between security guards and guests.”

ABC's 20/20 Coverage on Harrah's Casino Security Guard Assaults on Patrons

A number of Harrah’s Casino and Resort patrons recounted their nightmarish encounters with security personnel.

The Binns, a family of three from Florida, were assaulted by a group of security guards while on vacation back in 2012.

“It was miserable. It was absolutely miserable,” said Renee Binns.

John Binns, a professional poker player, says the hotel wrongfully evicted him after two nights at the hotel because of a computer error. On the tape, he can be seen raising his voice at front desk personnel; then, security steps in and aggressively wrestles him to the ground.

Michael Maggiano was in trial and unable to attend the taping, but co-counsel Paul D’Amato spoke on behalf of the victims.

“No sane person can explain the conduct that we see in those videos,” said attorney Paul D’amato. “This is the United States of America. The last time I saw or heard, we don’t beat people up for raising their voices or getting upset.”

After the incident, Andrea and Renee Binns were walking toward the elevators to go back to their room when security got involved once again. The video shows security officers wrestling 17-year-old Andrea to the ground and handcuffing her, breaking her nose in the process.

Sean Oaks, a student at the University of Pennsylvania, was another victim of brutality at Harrah’s. Outside The Pool After Dark, a nightclub inside Harrah’s Resort and Casino, a security officer was scrutinizing Oaks’ ID closely and started to bend it back and forth. Oaks tried to get his driver’s license back, which triggered a wave of security personnel.

“A whole gang of people jumped on me and piled on, kicked me, hit me in the back of the head—they were wailing on me. I heard a voice behind me saying ‘break his arms if you have to,’” Oaks said.

ABC reports that a Harrah’s security guard filed a complaint with police alleging that Oaks was the aggressor—but that complaint was dropped this week.

Rob Coney, a junior accountant from Philadelphia and former college basketball player, also suffered at the hands of Harrah’s security. Coney was attending a pool party at Harrah’s, and he says security personnel wrongfully accused him of leaving the party.

According to a report filed by an off-duty police officer, Coney’s 6’7” stature made security guards fearful. The video footage shows the off-duty police officer, who moonlights at Harrah’s, pushing Coney and yelling at him throughout the altercation, even when Coney was well out of the area of the party.

“It’s all security using unnecessary, unprovoked violence to handle situations,” D’Amato said.“

Without warning, an officer hits Coney in the throat and strikes him with a baton. Coney can be seen running away from the officer in fear before he is thrown to the ground and beaten severely. Coney is dragged away from the scene bleeding from the head.

“I’m laying in a pool of my own blood. I thought I was dying. I thought I was dead,” Coney recalls.

ABC showed the footage to a security expert and retired New York detective, who said none of Coney’s language or actions could provoke or justify this kind of ruthless beating.

Atlantic City Mayor Don Guardian said, as of the beginning of this year, police officers are no longer allowed to moonlight as bouncers for the casino.

“Beating can’t be tolerated, it’s unacceptable. Violence can’t be tolerated,” Guardian said. “This is a city that needs to be hospitable. That type of activity can’t occur. When that occurs, we’re in the wrong business.”