Did a bar bouncer in Oceanside go too far in doing his job?
Those are the allegations against 40-year-old Derrick Lamont Belser charged with involuntary manslaughter in the death of a bar patron.
Prosecutors allege Belser followed three bar patrons outside the Fire Water Saloon, punching two of them following an argument on Dec. 28. He had exited a locked gate separating him from the group to confront the men, prosecutors said.
One of the patrons, 27-year-old Mark Girard Jr., fell upon being punched, hitting his head on the concrete. He died in a hospital two days later.
Belser was in court on Wednesday and pleaded not guilty to the charges. Bail was set at $200,000.
At the court hearing, Belser’s defense attorney, Brad Patton, gave a much different account of what happened. He said the bar patrons were found inside the saloon after 2 a.m., when the bar had already closed, and were repeatedly told to leave.
The three left, but Belser’s attorney said his client spotted them “hovering” at the rear entrance of the saloon. He went outside and told them to leave when they because hostile, Patton said.
“Mr. Belser was very concerned for his safety,” the attorney said.
That’s what led Belser to punch Girard, Patton contends.
That narrative doesn’t fit with how family members described Girard. His father described his son as an avid surfer and one passionate about habitat restoration.
“It’s a really senseless act of violence,” father Mark Girard Sr. said.