Rush Guitarist Considers Suit Alleging Police Brutality

Alex Lifeson Was Arrested On New Year's Eve In Naples, Florida

By Jon Wiederhorn, MTV News, January 5, 2004

Rush guitarist Alex Lifeson may sue Naples, Florida, authorities for police brutality following a New Year's Eve fight with cops at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel restaurant, according to a source close to the normally mellow Canadian rocker.

During the melee, police broke the 50-year-old Lifeson's nose and zapped him four times with a stun gun. After being treated for his injuries, Lifeson (born Alex Zivojinovich) was taken to Collier County Jail, where he was photographed in a black jacket and blood-spattered tuxedo shirt. The guitarist spent two nights behind bars before posting $14,500 bail on Friday.

The fight broke out after Lifeson's son Justin tried to join the restaurant's house band to sing a song to his wife. When he was asked to leave the stage, he refused and shouted, "F--- off, I'm going to sing my wife a f---ing song," the hotel's security supervisor said in a statement to police.

When security and police near a stairwell tried to evict Justin, Lifeson intervened, announcing that his son wasn't going to leave, according to the police report. Officers threatened to arrest Lifeson, who was preventing the police from reaching his son, and Lifeson shouted, "Take me to jail. I don't care. It's f---ing New Year's Eve."

Justin began to struggle, swinging his elbow at a policeman's face, and was stunned twice with a Taser gun. Police say Lifeson then became "extremely violent," shouting obscenities and flinging his fists. He ripped an officer's radio from his uniform and pushed a female cop down a stairwell, according to a police report. Lifeson denied shoving the woman down the stairs.

An officer reacted to Lifeson's outburst by punching him in the face, breaking his nose, and hitting him twice with a stun gun. After the guitarist was pushed to his chest to be handcuffed, Lifeson turned his head to the right and spat blood in one of the officers' faces. The officer zapped one of the rocker's shoulders while a colleague administered the same treatment to the other shoulder.

Lifeson, his son and his son's wife were all arrested. Police said the rocker and his son were both "extremely intoxicated."

Because of the severity of his crime and the time at which it occurred, the guitarist was jailed for two days. In Florida, when someone is arrested for a violent felony, the person has to wait for bond to be set by a judge. Because Lifeson arrived well after midnight, he missed the next 24-hour hearing slot and had to wait until Friday morning.

He faces six charges, included aggravated battery on a law enforcement officer, resisting an officer with violence and disorderly intoxication.

As a bruised and bloodied Lifeson was led from jail in front of a camera crew, he said, "[This] gives a new meaning to dinner at the Ritz."