Whiskey Row: Trial date set after man dies following fight with guards at Nashville bar

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Whiskey Row: Trial date set after man dies following fight with guards at Nashville bar

A trial date has been set for Feb. 27 after a man died following a fight with security guards last summer at Dierks Bentley’s Whiskey Row in downtown Nashville.

Tarrell Gray, Mallet Meneese and Dylan Larocca – who were working as security guards for Whiskey Row that night – face charges in the death of 22-year-old Dallas Barrett. Assistant District Attorney Megan King and Deputy District Attorney Roger Moore were in court Thursday to announce the latest updates in the case. 

All three men face charges of reckless homicide and aggravated assault in Barrett’s death. 

Barrett’s mother, Tammy Barrett, and his sister, Lillian Nelson, were also in the courtroom.

Police said Barrett was held to the ground during a fight with private security guards at Whiskey Row the night of Aug. 16, 2021. A medical examiner later determined he died of oxygen deprivation.

Gray, Meneese and Larocca did not appear in court Thursday. Their next hearing is set for Nov. 18. 

Timeline: What’s happened since Whiskey Row patron’s death a year ago

Where the cases, charges stand

Six guards and another man were initially charged with reckless homicide and aggravated assault following Barrett’s death. The charges were announced after a grand jury indictment in December. 

The seven men initially indicted in Barrett’s death are: 

  • John Eustace, 26 (guard)
  • Tarrell Gray, 25 (guard)
  • Jaelen Alexander Maxwell, 23 (guard)
  • Mallet Daquan Meneese, 30 (guard)
  • Dylan Thomas Larocca, 33 (guard)
  • Mark Ryan Watkins, 24 (guard)
  • Steven John Simon, 44

When Larocca turned himself in for the indictment, he was also served a criminal summons from a 2019 misdemeanor assault charge, records show. An affidavit stated Larocca assaulted a patron in March 2019 while working as a security guard at Florida Georgia Line House in downtown Nashville. The case was later bound over to a grand jury.

Gray was also previously named in two lawsuits that accuse him of provoking confrontations and assaulting patrons in 2016 and 2017 as a security guard at Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge. Both suits were still ongoing as of this month.

Eustace, Maxwell, Watkins and Simon are awaiting further proceedings and could go to trial after Gray, Meneese and Larocca.

Tarrell Gray: Tootsie’s patrons sued Nashville security guard over violence years before Whiskey Row death

 Dylan Larocca: Security guard charged in Whiskey Row death faces separate assault charge, records show

‘A difficult 365 days’

Tammy Barrett said her son, Tony, took her to breakfast and shopping Tuesday, on the day of the anniversary. The family also gathered at Stewart Creek in Smyrna to spread a portion of Dallas Barrett’s ashes and share fond memories.

At the creek, Tammy Barrett read aloud a letter she wrote to her deceased son.

She said she is still thinking about all the things they won’t be able to do together, including visiting restaurants he loved and chasing dreams he had for his future.

Nelson said the anniversary of her brother’s death this week was hard to process.

“It’s definitely been a difficult week, but it’s also been a difficult 365 days,” Nelson said as she spoke with media after the hearing. “We’re all in kind of a bad habit of staying too busy.”

Whiskey Row death draws scrutiny, inspires new state law

The Tennessean first reported that four of the guards charged were not properly licensed at the time of Barrett’s death: Eustace, Gray, Maxwell and Watkins. 

A Tennessean analysis of state law later revealed unarmed private security guards employed solely by a proprietary security organization, such as Whiskey Row LLC, are not required to complete any training to get licensed.

Barrett’s death, along with video of the fight and The Tennessean’s analysis, inspired state Rep. Bill Beck, D-Nashville, to propose a bill that would close that “loophole” in state law and boost training requirements for unarmed guards.

The measure, dubbed “Dallas’s Law,” passed and takes effect in January. The new law will require first aid, CPR, restraint and de-escalation training for private guards working in places licensed to serve alcohol.

Senate Minority Leader Jeff Yarbro, D-Nashville, sponsored the bill in the Senate.

Reporters Molly Davis and Seyna Clark contributed to this story.

Find reporter Rachel Wegner at rawegner@tennessean.com or on Twitter @rachelannwegner.