Soulfly Tour Guard Assaults LMN Writer

By Jason Koerner

Did you know that you are assaulted by someone in Louisville, the police will not arrest the assaulter if they did not see the assault for themselves? This is what I was told by a Louisville Police officer after an incident immediately following the Soulfly show at Headliners April 8.

Here's what happened: a "security guard" for the band Soulfly, one "Big Red," otherwise known as Sean D. Johnson, decided, arbitrarily, that I did not have permission to take pictures of the band, when I had, in fact, gotten permission from one of the female Soulfly staff on their bus. Instead of walking outside and checking on it, this "security guard" grabbed me by my rib cage and dragged me out of Headliners, through the crowd into the lobby entrance, causing a big - and embarrassing - scene. "Big Red" is so nicknamed for a reason: he appeared to weigh well in excess of 300 pounds. I weigh roughly 130 pounds, eliminating the possibility of resistance to an attack by such a large person and, thinking as a law-abiding citizen, that getting into a fight might well land me in jail.

Outside, he slammed me against the wall, screamed every curse word at me in the book, grabbed (and nearly broke) my $1000 camera and would not let go of me. All the while, Headliner's security personnel were doing their best to get him off me, finally succeeding after using four guards against him. (A big thanks to all the security staff involved at Headliner's for helping me. I would be in a lot worse shape if it were not for you guys.)

We were separated, and the police were on their way, much to my approval. When the police arrived, they disabused me of my optimism with this exchange:

I stated that I wanted to press charges against "Big Red" for assaulting me, a policeman laughed at me and said, "It does not work like it works on TV, son. You can't do that." He went on to say that he did not see it happen, therefore, Big Red would not go to jail, and I would have to take his personal information to the Hall of Justice to file a complaint the next day, if I so wished.

He went to lament the problems of his profession: "We have to do it all, social worker, lawyer, police officer..." Then he said nothing would happen, since "Big Red" tours with a band on the road all the time and lives in Georgia. If I filed a complaint, however, a summons would be sent to his home, and it would be addressed the next time he was in Louisville, should he be arrested for something.

In spite of a concert hall full of witnesses, a staff full of security guards who risked their own backsides to get this thuggish "guard" off me visible marks and bruises on my body in the shape of hand prints around my ribs, the cops still would not do nothing about it. They claimed it was a misdemeanor, and if they did not see it themselves, then there is nothing they can do about it.

I left fuming, of course, and talked to my editor the next day about possible recourses available to me. Cynical old guy that he is, he was sympathetic but said "yep," that's what happens, but noted that I had one fairly powerful tool to use against Sean D. Johnson: the press.

So here you have it: more than anything, I hope everyone understands how big of an a**hole I think Sean D. "Big Red". Johnson is. I further hope that someone reads this article to him, slowly, so he understands it.

As for Soulfly and speaking to them, I think you should be ashamed of yourselves for having such an out-of-control "guard" like that working for you, as it makes you look bad, and I don't mean good. If you are fortunate, "Big Red" will not kill or seriously injure one of your fans while working for you, as such an outcome would not only reflect very badly on you, it would get you into some seriously expensive legal trouble.

I came to see a good show and to try to help build your fan base in Louisville in any way I could. Instead, I was beaten up, made to look like a liar, belittled by my own city's law enforcement and had my overall reputation and credibility as a reporter damaged because of the people that your band brought along.

I won't forget, particularly since I believe an apology and an explanation is in order. I still have most of the pictures I took of you guys, because Big Red was too impatient to go through them all. Naturally, I won't print them. Just know that until this matter is personally addressed with me, that it will continue to damage your reputation in my eyes and those I affect.

Readers: Have any of you been arrested for assault or any similar charge before that was not witnessed by a Louisville police officer? If so email me at and tell me your story.