Charges dismissed against Boneyard Bar security guards

Staff Photo by Matt Hamilton / A portion of the chassis of a 1967 Ford Econoline van decorates the wall at the Boneyard Bar in 2022.

Reckless endangerment charges have been dismissed against two security guards caught on camera in a physical altercation that left a downtown Chattanooga bar patron unconscious last October, according to court records.

Mitchell M. Norman, 20, of Cleveland, Tennessee, and Clarence Wiley, 31, of Chattanooga, both had their charges “dismissed - per D.A.” in a May 12 hearing before Hamilton County General Sessions Court Judge Gary Starnes, according to court documents.

Both Norman and Wiley were charged with reckless endangerment after an Oct. 7 incident left Caleb Lewis Young unconscious outside the Boneyard Bar on Chattanooga’s Station Street.

“As in all cases, if the state cannot prove the offense beyond a reasonable doubt, the state may move to dismiss the case,” Hamilton County District Attorney General Coty Wamp said in a Wednesday email to the Chattanooga Times Free Press. “Based on the state’s investigation into the facts of the case and conversations with Mr. Young, the state of Tennessee cannot prove the underlying offense of reckless endangerment.”

  photo  Hamilton County Sheriff's Office / Clarence Wiley

Video footage uploaded to YouTube showed Young trying to enter the bar through the rear entrance when he was stopped by Wiley and Norman, as previously reported by the Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Chattanooga police responded to the scene after bar co-owner Lewis Armistead called to report that Young was outside unconscious, according to an incident report from the department, which also labeled Young as the “initial aggressor.”

The case was soon closed by the department but reopened after footage of the incident was published on YouTube.

In the video, which has since been removed from YouTube for violating its terms of service, Young could be seen falling backward onto the ground after being punched in the face by a security guard. He remained on the ground unconscious as Wiley, Norman and a third unidentified security guard walked into the bar, leaving Young alone as he lay on the street.

The video also showed Young later being dragged by another security guard, while still unconscious, away from the oncoming traffic, then left under a bench near the bar’s rear entrance, before a group of people stop to render him aid.

Norman and Wiley turned themselves in Dec. 5 and Dec. 2, respectively, and both received a $1,000 bond.

Chattanooga-based attorney Robin Flores, who is representing Young in a civil suit against the bar and owners Jared Padovani and Armistead, said he could not comment on the case, citing pending litigation.

Young’s lawsuit, filed at the Hamilton County Circuit Court, seeks $1.5 million in damages.

  photo  Hamilton County Sheriff's Office / Mitchell M. Norman

The lawsuit claimed Young suffered serious injuries to his head and face.

A Times Free Press email inquiry, sent to Armistead on Wednesday, seeking comment on the dismissal of the charges and information on possible measures the business has taken since the incident to prevent such incidents in the future, went unanswered.

Armistead previously told the Times Free Press that while Norman and Wiley were defending themselves, the bar owners did not condone violence and were reviewing security protocols.

“The private security team we hired defended themselves. The Boneyard notified police and emergency medical services. The safety of our patrons, staff and neighbors is a primary goal in the operation of our business,” Armistead said in an Oct. 13 email.

Earlier this year, a new state law went into effect requiring training for bouncers at bars and restaurants that includes instruction in de-escalation tactics, safe-restraint techniques and emergency first aid and CPR training.

The law, named after Dallas “DJ” Barrett, went into effect Jan. 1. Barrett died in an altercation with security guards at the Nashville honky-tonk Dierks Bentley’s Whiskey Row in 2021.

Contact La Shawn Pagán at or 423-757-6476.