refuse to allow Barrier daughters to identify
their father on motel video
This case is considered an open and active
at this point. - Lt. Dennis
The police told us that they are not investigating
death as a homicide. So why can't we identify
it was that checked in that night?
INSIDE VEGAS by Steve Miller
April 28, 2008
LAS VEGAS - He stood up to
the city's new crime bosses, and he died a mysterious death. He was referred
to as the "Outspoken
enemy of the Mob" after he exposed that his next door neighbors at
a politically influential strip club would routinely rough up customers
to extort money while some police, the city, the DA, and several judges
routinely looked the other way.
According to the Associated
Press, James "Buffalo Jim" Barrier "fought very public battles
against his landlord, former strip club owner Rick Rizzolo, and Rizzolo's
club, Crazy Horse Too."
On Saturday, April 5, 2008,
the former professional wrestler was found dead of an unknown cause in
room 105 of a budget motel on the Boulder Highway. He was 55 years old.
"There is nothing to indicate
that anything was amiss when he was renting that room. He was in no distress
and appeared to be in good spirits," according to police Capt. Randy Montandon
who viewed the four minute tape taken at the motel's check-in counter.
On the evening of his death,
police asked Barrier's 15 year old daughter Jerrica to enter room 105 of
the Motel 6 to identify her father before he was wheeled out on a gurney.
After seeing her father,
Jerrica became hysterical and collapsed. EMT's were not summoned. Instead
the girls report that officers told them that crying would not bring their
Jerrica was accompanied only
by her 20 year old sister Elise who, according to a police academy instructor
who asked not be be identified, should have been the only family member
asked to identify the body. To expose a 15 year old child to such
a traumatic experience is not acceptable police procedure according to
Now, Barrier's four daughters
want closure and they believe that being able to see their dad "in good
spirits" on a video tape taken moments before his death will provide them
But metro police have a different
During the past three weeks
since Barrier's death, assorted police detectives have three times invited
the daughters to view the video, then rescinded their offer after the girls
arrived at the police station. The most recent of these disappointing events
took place on Friday, April 25 when 24 year old Jennifer Barrier received
a call from police asking if the family could assemble at the West Oakey
Boulevard sub station at 4:00 PM?
The family arrived to be
informed that an attorney with the Clark County District Attorney's office
had advised police to deny the family a viewing of the tape. When asked
why, the detective only said, "I have no answer," according to Jessica
The police department's third
refusal to show the tape inspired the family to file a records request
based on the Nevada Public Records Act.
April 25, 2008
Via: email, fax, U.S. Postal Service
Dear Records Request Officer:
Pursuant to the state open records act, as a private citizen and daughter
of the late James "Buffalo Jim" Barrier, I request the viewing of the video
surveillance tape recovered from Motel 6, 4125 Boulder Highway, Las Vegas,
NV, 89121 that shows James "Buffalo Jim" Barrier checking in on the evening
or night of April 5, 2008.
My family has been informed and it was heavily reported in the media
that this case was investigated as a death, there is no ongoing investigation,
therefore as a Nevada open record, the tape should be available for the
family to view per the verbal agreement of Det. M. Harding that was later
rescinded on April 24, 2008.
I agree to pay reasonable duplication fees for the processing of this
If my request is denied in whole or part, I ask that you justify all
deletions by reference to specific exemptions of the act.
Thank you for your assistance.
239.0107 Requests for inspection or copying of public books or
records: Actions by governmental entities.
Not later than the end of the fifth business day after the date on which
the person who has legal custody or control of a public book or record
of a governmental entity receives a written request from a person to inspect
or copy the public book or record, a governmental entity shall do one of
the following, as applicable:
Allow the person to inspect or copy the public book or record.
(d) If the governmental entity must
deny the person's request to inspect or copy the public book or record
because the public book or record, or a part thereof, is confidential,
provide to the person, in writing:
(1) Notice of that fact; and
(2) A citation to the specific statute or other legal authority that makes
the public book or record, or a part thereof, confidential.
Based on the above, Metro
Police have until Friday, May 2, to cite the specific statute or legal
authority to keep the tape confidential.
But this didn't discourage
the Barrier daughters from going public with their concerns. Asking why
a 15 year old would be allowed to see her father dead in a motel room,
then asking why a tape of Buffalo Jim supposedly alive and well just before
his death would not be allowed to be shown to his family at a time when
they are desperately seeking some closure, Jennifer and Jessica Barrier
appeared on the six o'clock, KVBC TV News on Friday, April 25, to
try to let police know how important this case is to the community; generate
public support; and keep the story of their father's death alive.
Las Vegas has become a very
callous place of late with numerous stories of mysterious deaths aired
nightly. In fact, our state has been named one of the most
dangerous in the U.S. for five years in a row. So it's easy for one
more mysterious death to meld in with the normally horrific stories local
citizens are exposed to on a daily basis in Nevada's most populous place,
a town rightly called "Sin City."
TRANSCRIPT OF KVBC TV
News top story, April 25, 2008:
JENNIFER BARRIER: They said
it was your dad on the tape, and I said 'that's fine.' But we need some
closure in our life. We need to see our dad during his last moments. They
stated he was 'full of life,' and I want to see the four minutes of his
life. He was full of life? We have the right to see that. It's not treated
as a homicide to them. We have the right to do this. At this point right
now, I don' think it's him. They're giving us a run-around. They've been
stalling us for three weeks now from seeing this tape. I don't think it's
JESSICA BARRIER: From day
one I never thought it was him. From day one I thought it was somebody
else. And by them not letting us view it, I believe more and more it's
JENNIFER BARRIER: They're
really sketchy right now. They're hiding something from us. They're not
telling us anything. If they need to hold those tapes from us, that's fine.
But why don't they tell us? They didn't even give us a courtesy call to
tell us our appointments had been canceled. We get there and we're denied.
JESSICA BARRIER: At least
if we were able to view it and say that is our father, we would have at
least a little bit of closure. And another thing I don't understand is
why they're not considering this a homicide? What about all the threat
letters? He received one on the day he died.
END OF KVBC TV STORY.
Below is the letter Jessica
was referring to:
Also, in November and December
2007, two restraining orders were issued against Bart Rizzolo for attempting
to run Barrier down with his Range Rover.
But even this didn't inspire
police to open a homicide investigation.
With several threatening
letters in their files, two recent restraining orders, and medical records
showing Barrier received a clean bill of health from his family physician
the week before his death, police still consider Barrier's untimely death
as being from natural causes.
Metro's response has done
little to quell the public's uproar. Buffalo Jim Barrier was one of Las
Vegas' best known
characters in addition to being a successful business owner and adoring
single father. When his body was discovered on April 6, police officers
told Barrier's two youngest daughters that they had never heard of him.
In spite of this, Clark County
Sheriff Douglas Gillespie has reportedly received inquiries about Barrier's
death from a member of Congress, a Nevada University Regent, and the following
email from a member of the Nevada Assembly.
|April 24, 2008
I have been kept informed regarding the ongoing Jim Barrier case. The
most recent notice told me about the police department's refusal to allow
the Barrier family access to the Motel 6 video tape. I would appreciate
you looking into this and seeing what can be done to help this family in
this terrible time. If there is an investigative reason for not doing so,
at the very least they should be told why. If not, then they should be
given a copy of their father's last moments of life.
Nevada Assemblyman Bob Beers
|From: Dennis Domansky [mailto:--------@LVMPD.COM]
Sent: Fri 4/25/2008 3:44 PM
To: Beers, Bob Assemblyman
Subject: Jim Barrier Case
I am Sheriff Gillespie's Executive Lieutenant. I have been asked
to follow up on the e mail you sent regarding the Jim Barrier case.
I have spoken to Jim's daughter Jennifer and explained to her why we cannot
release the video tape that she is requesting. This case is considered
an open and active case at this point. She has my contact information
if she needs any further assistance.
Lieutenant Dennis Domansky
|Thank you Lieutenant Domansky.
As long as this is an open case, I can understand the need for keeping
things sealed. I would appreciate being kept in the loop and that the family
is allowed a copy of this video as soon as possible. Is anyone at all checking
into the threats issued from the Rizzolo associates?
Nevada Assemblyman Bob Beers
Others tell a different story.
Two local TV reporters told INSIDE VEGAS that police informed them that
the tape would not be shown to the family until the results of the autopsy
are released. This could take another six to ten weeks.
My questions are, why would
police deny the family such a simple request, unless the person in "good
spirits" checking into the motel was someone other than Buffalo Jim Barrier,
or unless he was not alone?
And why did a fit man like
Barrier check in to one of the motel's few handicapped accessible rooms,
one with a handicapped parking space located directly in front?
But I'm not the only journalist
asking police questions. Another local scribe told INSIDE VEGAS, "I spoke
to Captain Montandon two days ago (Thursday) regarding this matter, I asked,
'Is Metro, at this time, actively investigating the case?' He said: 'We
are not actively seeking out new witnesses or evidence.' He went
on to say that Metro is more than willing to receive any new witness or
evidence, but is at this point just waiting for the toxicology results
to come back."
A woman named "Lisa" was
interviewed by police the week following Barrier's death according to the
Vegas Sun. Coincidentally, a person named Lisa also twice called
the Barrier home the night of the death asking if Buffalo Jim was OK? She
also called his cell phone to ask the same question, and that's supposedly
how police located her.
She reportedly told police
that Barrier had a "seizure." If this is true, she left him in the motel
room -- minus his driver's license and cash (except a one dollar bill stuffed
in his wallet) -- to die, without notifying a single soul.
With this revelation, can
police still consider his death "natural?"
Had such an admission been
made in California or New York where Depraved
Indifference laws are in effect, "Lisa" would be behind bars for such
Are police satisfied with
her explanation? And why did the Clark
County District Attorney's office reverse Metro Police on their decision
to show the family the tape? This is the same DA that dismissed the
Kirk Henry case, a case that -- after the federal government took over
-- eventually closed the Crazy Horse Too strip club and sent its purported
owner Rick Rizzolo to prison.
It was Buffalo Jim Barrier
who documented dozens of beatings and other crimes committed at the Crazy
Horse drawing the wrath of its owners -- persons with deep La Cosa Nostra
ties. Barrier was credited with the closure of the club, and he died one
day following Rizzolo's release from prison.
And the police still say
they aren't investigating Barrier's death as a homicide!
The apple doesn't fall
far from the tree
Dominic John Rizzolo, 26,
son of Rick Rizzolo, was arrested on March 26, 2008 for attempted extortion
and attempted murder five weeks after a stabbing that occurred on January
21, 2008. He was released on his own recognizance based on the recommendation
of a District Court Judge. (The judge's name has not yet been released.)
The victim on January 21,
received a four inch deep life threatening puncture wound in his upper
abdomen that required emergency surgery. He spent 2 days in intensive care
followed by a two day hospitalization. The victim filed criminal charges
saying the stabbing occurred during a scuffle after he refused to pay Rizzolo's
demand of $20,000, and that Rizzolo allegedly pulled a switch blade and
stabbed him. Rizzolo reportedly lost his shoe while running to his car
after the stabbing. Police recovered the shoe as evidence.
INSIDE VEGAS was told by
a source that Dominic Rizzolo lived at the Summerlin home of Rick Belcastro
between January 21, and March 26, the day of his arrest. Belcastro is Rick
Rizzolo's god son. It is not known whether Belcastro knew of the stabbing
or knew that he was harboring a fugitive prior to Rizzolo's arrest.
Belcastro is the owner of
Bing strip club that opened on April 24, 2008.
Dominic Rizzolo reportedly
did not seek medical aid or file charges. However, his attorney is expected
to claim at arraignment that his client acted in self defense.
The stabbing occurred at
a private residence that, according to witnesses, Rizzolo drove to in an
SUV with the license place covered by a T-shirt. Two persons were with
him at the time but reportedly did not leave the vehicle.
Rizzolo is scheduled to be
arraigned on Monday, April 28, at 9 AM.
Dominic Rizzolo's grandfather
Bart Rizzolo, 78, was the subject of two restraining orders issued in 2007
after he attempted to run down Buffalo Jim Barrier. Dominic's father Rick
Rizzolo, 50, pleaded guilty to a gross misdemeanor in 1989 for beating
a man with a baseball bat. He did not serve jail time for that offense.
The victim, Rick Sandlin, died three years later from complications caused
by the beating.
Rick Rizzolo's criminal defense
attorney in the above case was Oscar Goodman who is now serving his third
term as mayor of Las Vegas. Dominic Rizzolo is being represented by Anthony
Sgro who is a well known Goodman protégé.
week's INSIDE VEGAS, I erroneously wrote that I had received an email
on Saturday, April 5, from someone related to an associate of Rick Rizzolo
telling of Buffalo Jim Barrier's death.
The email was actually dated
Sunday, April 6, the day Barrier's body was discovered.
A clarification is warranted
based on the following email.
|Subject: enough is enough
Date: 4/22/2008 11:42:42 A.M. Pacific Daylight Time
I read your "stories" occasionally and all they seem to do is aggravate
me. I am sorry for the untimely death of buffalo Jim and my heart
goes out to his daughters especially since they are not able to get any
closure right now. But that is not the reason why I am writing.
It seems you have made it your life to write about all the men at the Crazy
Horse as if you know them. Now I could care less about the majority
of them especially Rick Rizzolo, I agree that he is the scum of the earth
and he deserves everything he gets. But I am sick and tired of you
smearing one of my good friends name through the mud. First of all
since you write everything as a fact you should know the correct spelling
of his name it's Bobby D'Apice and he was a manager at the Crazy Horse
not a bouncer ( I think he's a little too old to be a bouncer). Now
I understand freedom of the press but I also understand defamation of character
and slander. You have written that Bobby was Kirk Henry's "assailant"
and that "he was the one who almost killed him", is that a FACT...... I
don't think so, because if it was he would be in prison for attempted murder.
He has already been sentenced, charged with racketeering and is currently
doing his time for his crime. It's not up for debate anymore, he's
not awaiting trial, and he is not guilty of the crimes you say he is, so
stop lying. Let me tell you something about Mr. D"Apice.... he is
one of the kindest people I have the privilege of calling my friend.
He is an amazing and dedicated father, a loving husband, and one of the
very few people who knows how to be a true friend. I have literally
seen him give the shirt off his back for someone who needed it, because
he is such a giving person. I know him to be someone who could never
do what he was "ACCUSED" of doing especially over an 88$ bar tab, I mean
come on now how ridiculous is that. There was never even the slightest
bit of proof surrounding that story and I myself know he was only used
to get to Rick Rizzolo. I would appreciate if you would write the
FACTS not your OPINION, you and your friend John Smith give bad names to
real journalists who write the facts and inform us. Isn't that what NEWS
is????? One more thing do yourself a favor don't be so ignorant as
to stereotype Bobby because he is Italian. You must be Irish. Does
that make you an alcoholic or a lush, well it must.... Maybe you
were drunk when you write your little STORIES.
Also in last
week's INSIDE VEGAS, I incorrectly identified Robert D'Apice as a bouncer
at the Crazy Horse Too. He was a manager.
I also stated that he had
assaulted Kirk Henry.
Mr. D'Apice according to
Department of Justice was only convicted of "extorting moneys
from patrons at the Crazy Horse Too strip club in Las Vegas through force
Robert D'Apice was never
convicted of specifically assaulting Mr. Henry.
INSIDE VEGAS corrects mistakes.
If you find an error, please let us know @ SteveMiller4LV@aol.com.
Copyright © Steve Miller