System Of A Down Bassist Sues Security Team For Humiliating Him In Front Of Fans

Bassist Shavo Odadjian claims a security guard elbowed him in the face.

System of a Down bassist Shavo Odadjian filed a lawsuit against a Grand Rapids, Michigan, security company on Thursday, claiming one of its employees struck him in the face, humiliating him in front of his fans during a 2001 co-headlining gig with Slipknot.

In the suit, filed in the Kent County Circuit Court, 28-year-old Odadjian claims that a guard working for DuHadway Kendall (DK) Security elbowed him in the face and forcibly dragged him out of the Van Andel Arena during a concert on October 20, 2001, according to a copy of the complaint.

Following System's performance, Odadjian was attempting to enter the backstage area with two women when the incident allegedly occurred. According to the suit, all parties had the appropriate credentials but were still harassed. In addition to charging that the guards assaulted and humiliated him, in his suit, Odadjian, who is Armenian-American, claims that guards also engaged in ethnic intimidation.

"At least three security guards were involved in one way or another in injuring him," Robert Sosin, Odadjian's attorney, said, explaining that he preferred not to elaborate on the charges of ethnic intimidation at this time.

The complaint states that Odadjian and his two companions watched a portion of Slipknot's performance and attempted to re-enter the backstage area when the DK personnel refused to acknowledge his credentials, blocking him from entering the backstage area and bloodying his nose by elbowing him in the face. The complaint then describes how the security detail allegedly lifted Odadjian up by his hands and feet, violently dragged him through the audience and threw him out the venue's front door.

Named in the suit are DK's Charles Booth, Brian Zylstra and Mark Stoken, the guard who was among those who allegedly struck Odadjian, according to the filing.

Following the incident, Odadjian filed an assault-and-battery complaint with Grand Rapids Police. Sosin confirmed that the Grand Rapids police investigated the claims at the time but did not file any charges. The suit comes after failed negotiations to settle the dispute, Sosin said.

Odadjian's suit claims he did not provoke the guards and that he suffered "serious personal injuries and damages including his face, nose, eye, shoulder, back; and he was caused to suffer pain and bleeding in his nose for long periods of time." Odadjian was given medical treatment by police and arena personnel on the night of the incident, Sosin said.

Brian Vincent, the attorney for DK Security, did not return calls for comment by press time, but he told the Grand Rapids Express that the company's staff did nothing wrong on the night in question.

"I've been in on the investigation since the beginning and we have found no evidence to support the plaintiff's claims," Vincent told the Express. "He didn't accept the restrictions, and he started a pushing match combined with a great deal of profanity in an area down on the floor where there were other patrons watching."

Vincent said that Slipknot had given DK instructions that no one was to come backstage during their performance due to the safety issues involved with the band's use of fireworks.

Sosin confirmed that, per DK Security's standard practice of photographing anyone booted from one of its events, a photo was taken of Odadjian, but that he had not seen the picture. Vincent said the band confiscated the photo before leaving the arena.

"They say the picture shows he suffered injury, but I have not been allowed to see the photo," Vincent was quoted as saying. "We have asked for any indication showing medical treatment and have received none."

Sosin said Odadjian is seeking unspecified monetary damages in the civil suit, but, "More importantly, his case sends a message that he was treated violently and inappropriately."