Man acquitted of dragging security guard in chaotic 2021 scene outside Norfolk nightclub
Updated: Aug 26
An Isle of Wight County man was acquitted in the dragging of a security guard outside a popular Norfolk nightclub two years ago.
Charleston Grant, 37, a truck driver and local hip hop artist, took off from the Origami Asian Bistro on Virginia Beach Boulevard in July 2021. He drove about 60 yards in his Mercedes with a security guard either hanging on or caught up in the fleeting car.
The security guard, Adrien Barrera, shot at Grant during the chaos — either before or after the car took off, depending on whose story you believe. The bullet struck Grant’s belt buckle and grazed his leg.
Following a two-day trial earlier this month, a jury in Norfolk Circuit Court found Grant not guilty of a felony malicious wounding charge.
The nightclub opened eight years ago at Military Circle as the 360 Sports Bar, with its name changing to Origami a couple years later. But the Norfolk City Council voted in December 2021 to shut the club down after it was the site of three shootings and a major drug bust over a 14-month stretch.
Grant’s attorney, Chad Dorsk, said his client arrived to the club at 1 a.m. It was a packed house for an “all white party,” with a mostly Black clientele dressed in white.
Grant, wearing a designer Burberry outfit, tried to buy some champagne, Dorsk said, but the club’s manager rebuffed him, then wouldn’t let him buy a water either.
“He was sort of persona non grata for whatever reason,” Dorsk said.
Grant left the club at its 2 a.m. closing time, getting into his white Mercedes convertible with its top down.
“It’s a very flashy car,” Dorsk said. “He’s kind of a flashy, fast talking guy.”
As cars cleared the parking lot, Grant stopped his car and began talking to a woman from his window. But an SUV pulled up behind him, horn blaring. Grant motioned for the SUV to go around. But the female driver began screaming at Grant, while a man got out of the passenger side.
The scene quickly became tense and chaotic. A man kicked the Mercedes, witnesses said, then opened the passenger door and tried to take a swing at Grant. But Grant testified that he picked up a gun from his passenger seat and pointed it at the man.
“Back the (expletive) up,” he said.
Several security guards in tactical vests surrounded the Mercedes. According to Grant and two security guards, Barrera “jumped into” the convertible, ending up on top of him.
“He grabs Grant’s firearm with his right hand and starts pushing it down,” Dorsk said. At the same time, the lawyer said, Barrera took out his handgun and pressed it against Grant’s groin.
Barrera had a different recollection.
He testified that Grant stood up in his car, pointing his gun at him over the windshield. Barrera said he drew his weapon, yelling a code word that caused three other guards to draw their guns. Barrera said he ordered Grant to drop his gun from about 15 feet, then walked up and grabbed the weapon.
That’s when Grant hit the gas, Barrera testified, saying he fired his gun after being trapped in the fleeing car.
But other witnesses, Dorsk said, asserted that Barrera opened fire as the Mercedes was “rolling slowly” — and that the gunshot is actually what caused Grant to take off.
“He didn’t want Barrera in his car,” the attorney said, saying the security guard was holding on.
The bullet, Dorsk said, struck Grant’s belt buckle, went through his shirt and grazed his leg. Barrera, who became free of the Mercedes 60 yards away, suffered scrapes and bruises. Grant initially was charged with two misdemeanors, brandishing and assault and battery.
After those were dropped, prosecutors elevated the charge in 2022 to felony malicious wounding, punishable by up to 20 years.
“We looked at the evidence to determine who the aggressor was, and we were satisfied that (Grant) was in fact the aggressor,” said Norfolk Commonwealth’s Attorney Ramin Fatehi — whose office prosecuted the case.
Fatehi said the different stories from the security guard witnesses at trial were “not a contradiction” but stemmed simply from having different vantage points. “There’s a difference between not being in a position to see something and seeing that something did not happen,” he said Thursday.
Dorsk countered: “No one claimed they had an obstructed vantage point. It’s a convertible Mercedes with the top down, and they are all standing next to the car.”
The lawyer said Norfolk police didn’t get any security camera footage of the incident — ether from the Origami or any nearby businesses, including a nearby Ollie’s Bargain Outlet. Though the club had a surveillance system, Dorsk said, a police detective told him in an email that he “checked for camera footage and was not successful in finding any.”
“Surveillance video would have been very useful in this case,” Fatehi acknowledged, saying he was unsure why none was found. “We had to proceed with the best evidence we had available.”
“It feels so good to be vindicated in the court of law,” Grant, who goes by the rap artist name Freshboy-G, said in a statement this week. He thanked Dorsk, “my witnesses” and the jury, and said he was “focusing on recouping what I lost and restoring my peace.”
“This was a very difficult and vulnerable space in my life, but I am proud of standing up for other artists and people like me — who may gain at lot of attention from the clothes we wear or the car we drive, but should be able to enjoy those things without fearing for our lives.”
Charleston Grant, 37, was acquitted in the dragging of a security guard
outside the Origami Asian Bistro in Norfolk in July 2021.