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Club Onyx gets thumbs-down from Marion County liquor board

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Illegal drugs, shootings and assault were just the tip of iceberg of incidents that have plagued Club Onyx, Club Kalakutah and other nightclubs.

A newly formed unit of Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department was designed to investigate trouble around bars, and it’s acquired a mountain of evidence for the Alcoholic Beverage Board of Marion County.

Surveillance video from Club Onyx on Dec. 12 shows a man come out of the club shooting.

Undercover officers have captured video of dancers offering patrons more than the law allows.

A detective from an IMPD alcohol task force said dozens of firearms have been stolen from cars, and illegal drugs and liquor are readily available in the restrooms.

Club Onyx, 4444 S. Harding St., is owned by a Las Vegas company. The club is just north of the I-465 interchange on the south side.

Ryan Carlson told the Marion County liquor board that he was the owner’s representative and that his mother was the majority stakeholder in the company. Carlson took exception to many of the allegations outlined by police, and, at one point, questioned the use of taxpayer dollars for undercover police to investigated the club. That led to a spirited exchange, with one of the board members asking Carlson, “Did you just say your tax dollars at work? Did you say that?”

Carlson responded, “Yes, I did. It was a private comment to my attorney.”

The board member responded, “We are trying to figure out how you run your operation. We shouldn’t have to do that.”

Carlson told the board that Club Onyx is closed and will remain closed for at least 90 days. He says the staff has been fired, and the company plans to rebrand the entire operation, hire new staff and play different music with an attempt to attract a different clientele.

The board didn’t buy the argument and voted to deny the renewal of the club’s liquor permit.

The liquor board also voted to deny the permit for Club Kalakutah, 4718 Century Plaza Road. That’s near Lafayette Square Mall off Georgetown Road near I-65.

The Club Kalakutah owner says he has closed the business, no longer serves alcohol, and wants to sell the business. Secoya Willliams, 25, was murdered in the club’s parking lot a year ago.

IMPD Capt. Christopher Boomershine told the liquor board that he’d told the club owner to stop the unlicensed activity or face the consequences. “And I asked him to stop the unlicensed boxing, the stripping, which he was not zoned for. That night, on a Friday that night, three of my Northwest District officers were working part-time at the business and what walks past them are three women dressed as stripers.” 

The decisions by the Marion County liquor board are sent to the state liquor board, which ultimately controls liquor licenses. It can take months to get a final decision on whether to permanently revoke a license.