A popular Brookhaven restaurant and nightclub that attracts some of the hottest hip hop artists and sports celebrities remains open after the city’s Alcohol Board overturned the city’s decision to revoke its liquor license following a shooting at the club earlier this year.

Medusa Restaurant & Lounge, located in Northeast Plaza on Buford Highway, successfully appealed the city’s July decision to revoke its liquor license in which the city deemed the club a “danger” to city residents and businesses following a May 13 shooting in the parking lot.

The Brookhaven Alcohol Board — from left, Kris Sokolowski, Chair Joseph Patin and Richard Grice —
voted to overturn the city’s decision to revoke Medusa Restaurant & Lounge’s liquor license. (Dyana Bagby)

Among the city’s allegations was that Medusa served as a meeting place for an alleged renowned member of the Bloods street gang known as “G-Weed,” who celebrated his birthday at the Brookhaven club this year. The party included a massive red “Bompton” birthday cake served up by women in skimpy red outfits and wearing red bandannas, the colors of the Bloods.

After a four-hour hearing on Nov. 8 and another week of contemplation, the volunteer-member Alcohol Board issued their ruling Nov. 16 and overturned the city’s revocation, stating there was not credible evidence employees of the club acted illegally.

“The city is disappointed in the board’s conclusions and disagree with its decision to allow Medusa to keep its alcohol license,” city spokesperson Burke Brennan said. “The city will continue to enforce all of its laws and codes to ensure the safety of the public and maintain a high level of quality of life for Brookhaven residents.”

Cary Wiggins, who represented Medusa at the Alcohol Board hearing, said he and his clients were pleased with the board’s decision.

“We appreciate that the board listened to the evidence and arguments and reached, I’m quite certain, the right result,” he said. “Medusa will continue to work with the community to be the best corporate citizen that it can be.”

Medusa opened in late 2015 and has become a popular spot that attracts hip-hop stars such as Lil Yachty, Young Joc, 2 Chainz, Gucci Mane and 21 Savage, as well as sports celebrities including former Atlanta Falcon Michael Vick, who held his retirement party at Medusa, boxing champion Floyd Mayweather and several players for the Atlanta Hawks.

The club has also come under the watchful eye of the Brookhaven Police Department.

The police department has presented reports to the City Council showing it responds to hundreds of calls a year at 10 specific nightclubs on Buford Highway, including Medusa. On May 13, a shooting occurred outside the Medusa club at closing time, about 3 a.m., led the city to revoke the club’s liquor license.

The city’s case to revoke Medusa’s liquor license rested on two major issues: that Medusa violated city ordinances by hiring security guards that were not licensed to be armed; and that because an FBI-certified member of the Bloods street gang frequented the club as evidenced in social media posts, the club and its ownership violated city ordinance by not reporting illegal activity.

City alleges club affiliated with Bloods gang
One of those injured in the May 13 shooting was Shadeed Muhammad of Los Angeles, also known as “G-Weed” or “G-Weeder.”

DeKalb Police Det. Jimmy Menefee, center, speaks with, from left, Assistant City Manager Steve Chapman, City Attorney Chris Balch and Brookhaven Police Chief Gary Yandura during the Nov. 8 Alcohol Board meeting. (Dyana Bagby)

As part of the investigation of the shooting, Brookhaven Police crime analyst Abby Bell testified she scoured social media, including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and found numerous references indicating G-Weed was a member of the Bloods and that he was heavily involved with Medusa promoters and their parties at the Brookhaven club.

Also testifying was Det. Jimmy Menefee, a gang detective with the DeKalb County Police Department. Menefee gave lengthy testimony and guided the Alcohol Board through a detailed history of the Bloods and its rivalry with the Crips. He described how Bloods gang members will say “Bompton” rather than “Compton” when referring to the city where the Bloods were founded as a way to show disrespect to the Crips. An FBI “national gang registry” also shows G-Weed is a verified Bloods gang member, Menefee said.

The Medusa Restaurant & Lounge. (File/Dyana Bagby)

Balch stated because Medusa’s owners did not report criminal activity at the club between February and May, times when G-Weed was known to be at the club, they were violating the city ordinance that requires illegal activity be reported to the city. The city did not report what, if any, illegal activity took place at the club and did not present any evidence of illegal activity taking place at the club.

When Wiggins explained to Menefee during cross examination that it was not illegal to be a member of a gang, Menefee responded, “You’re going to be involved in some kind of illegal activity” if you’re a member of a gang.

Balch also played for the board a video G-Weed posted to his public Instagram account of his March birthday celebration at Medusa. The video, taken with a selfie stick, shows women in red, revealing outfits wearing red bandanas carrying out a large, red decorated birthday cake spelling out “Bompton” in a crowded room with people cheering.

In an awkward exchange, Balch asked Menefee if the decorations on the cake were blood dots. Menefee explained those were actually paisleys, a design used on most bandannas.

“Membership in the Bloods … puts you in the crosshairs of criminal activity,” Balch told the board. “You don’t randomly misspell Compton, California, unless you are signaling respect to a gang member.”

Wiggins described the party as similar to a scene from a VH-1 video and described the social media postings as “puffery.”

The board agreed with Wiggins.

“While the board recognizes that substantial credible evidence was presented that members of a gang that is recognized by law enforcement authorities may have been present upon Medusa’s premises, such membership is not per se illegal and the board finds no evidence was presented so as to establish that Medusa failed to report any criminal activity to law enforcement in violation of the city’s ordinance,” the board stated in its decision.

The security guards
According to police reports and testimony, the two Medusa security guards exchanged gunfire with a gunman on May 13 after a fight involving a group of people spilled out from the club and into the rear parking lot at closing time, about 3 a.m. Off-duty Brookhaven Police officers were also working security that night and immediately jumped into action to secure the scene and assist the wounded.

Brookhaven Police later determined during its investigation that two guards, Thaddeus Tigner and Shayquan “Quan” Gooding, did not have a state license to work as armed security guards, violating city ordinances. They were charged with aggravated assault, according to police reports. The DeKalb District Attorney is still investigating the allegations, according to spokesperson Yvette Jones. There are no other Medusa cases pending at the DA’s office, she added.

In its ruling, the Alcohol Board stated Medusa did not violate the laws the city cited because the laws do not apply to private individuals working for their employer. The board concluded “the city’s basis for revoking Medusa’s alcohol license for violating these statutes is in error and is overturned.”