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Monday, June 27, 2022

City revokes alcohol permit from Time Out Billiards for excessive use of police force

Ocala City Council members voted to revoke the alcohol permit of Time Out Billiards after a lengthy, heated hearing that saw testimonies from the business’s owner and the Ocala Police Chief, among others.

The revocation, which was approved during the council’s regular meeting on Tuesday, July 6, came as a result of what the city labeled an abuse of its public safety resources.

In particular, Ocala City Attorney Patrick Gilligan called multiple witnesses on the city’s behalf to make a case showing multiple breaches of the peace, noise complaints, and dangerous incidents at Time Out Billiards, which is located at 618 South Pine Avenue.

According to Gilligan and Ocala Police Chief Mike Balken, those incidents consumed an excessive amount of Ocala Police Department resources. At multiple points, Balken and his staff suggested that Time Out Billiards used more police resources than any other similar businesses by a factor of “10 to 1.”

Balken spoke of multiple incidents spanning the past two years that included a double shooting inside the bar, as well as a separate arrest in which police collected 17 firearms from an individual.

In addition to police concerns, Ocala Fire Rescue Captain Anthony Ortiz cited multiple instances of the business operating without proper licensing to operate a night club. Ortiz indicated that although the business was licensed as a restaurant, it was operating as a night club.

In his defense, owner Mohamed Abdelfattah suggested that his business was being unfairly targeted, that he had complied with the city, and that he had reduced the amount of incidents in the previous week.

He suggested that other businesses experienced similar issues, citing a shooting that took place at O’Malley’s Alley in downtown Ocala.

Although he spent nearly over an hour making comments in defense of his business and his attempts at alleviating the problem, the owner was ultimately met at every turn with evidence dating back to 2019.

In one recent instance, Balken says that all 14 of his officers were called to the scene, in addition to 9 deputies from the Marion County Sheriff’s Office.

Balken said that if the city didn’t vote for revocation, his only option would be to pull his detail officers.

“We’re out of answers. We are not in the business of serving as [Mr. Abdelfattah’s] private security,” said Balken.

After the lengthy comments from Abdelfattah, the Ocala City Council voted unanimously to revoke the alcohol permit of the business.