Families react to dropped E2 charges

November 17, 2011 (CHICAGO)

On February 17, 2003, 21 people were killed after A security guard using pepper spray in the crowded South Side club triggered the rush, according to authorities. Fifty other patrons were injured.

One of those killed was DaShand Ray, 24. DaShand's father Howard is still looking for justice, especially now that a state appeals court tossed out the guilty verdicts and jail sentences for club owners Calvin Hollins and Dwain Kyles.

"They were responsible for making sure that the place were not over-occupied. That's number one. Number two, they were responsible for making sure that there was proper exit in case of situation like this," Howard Ray said.

In 2009, Hollins and Kyles were found guilty of violating a judge's order to close the club's second floor. They were both sentenced to two years in prison, but have remained out on appeal.

The state appellate court decided the original court order wasn't as clear as city of Chicago prosecutors claimed at trial. Hollins agrees there was always confusion over the court order.

"It was ambiguous from the very beginning. It was always ambiguous," Holins said. "I haven't done anything and that has been my fight through this whole process and that I haven't done anything to deserve this jail time."

Hollins says the entire situation was a mistake, not a crime and the city bears some responsibility.

"Had the city done what they were supposed to have done that night no one would have ever had to die, I mean no one, had the city moved in and done the rescue attempt as they should have done immediately instead of waiting 30 minutes before pulling these young people out," he said.

A spokesperson for the City of Chicago said, "We are disappointed with the court's decision. In our view, respondents violated a clear and mandatory court order, and but for that violation no one would have died or been injured at their club. We are continuing to review the court's opinion to determine whether to seek further review."

Hollins is relieved for now, but given the years he has been involved, he is looking ahead, cautiously.

"If something else comes up regarding this case I'll continue to fight because I did nothing wrong," he said. Hollins and Kyles are planning to release a statement and answe questions from the media at a news conference Thursday.

Meanwhile, Howard Ray believes the city deserves most of the blame for the tragedy.

The city is more than 75 percent responsible. They're more like 99 percent responsible for what happen because, first of all, the building code violations was not enforced. Second, the first-responders responded horribly," Ray said.

Danielle Greene also died in the stampede, and to this day, her sister believes that no one is being held accountable, especially with Wednesday's legal twist.

"It was something that could have been prevented, but it wasn't. So I just want you to own up, and take responsibility for what happened," said Channon Jefferson, Greene's sister.

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