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Cops used riot gear to disperse crowd at downtown Modesto club

Nine people were arrested early Saturday after a confrontation between police and drunken patrons at a downtown club, police said. About 40 officers and deputies responded to the incident, which started at 12:38 a.m. at the Fat Cat nightclub on 11th Street, said Modesto police spokesman Sgt. Brian Findlen.

The confrontation lasted about 15 minutes. During the first few minutes, officers were outnumbered by "uncooperative and confrontational" people, Findlen said. Officers called for additional units. About 18 deputies from the Stanislaus County Sheriff's Department responded, as did at least one Ceres police officer.

At one point, officers donned helmets and batons and formed what's called a "skirmish line." The line of about 12 to 15 officers directed a crowd of 70 to 100 people to move away from the Fat Cat toward I Street, Findlen said.

Such crowd control measures often are used when police are dealing with a large group, Findlen said.

Two of the people who were arrested were taken to a hospital for treatment before they were booked at the Stanislaus County Jail. No officers were injured.

The incident started at a private birthday party on the Fat Cat's second floor. Club owner Chris Ricci, who wasn't present during the incident, said security staff told him that members of the group became unruly. The group was not fighting. "My understanding was that they were being rude to security," Ricci said.

'Getting hyphy on us'

Club staff told police they asked the birthday partiers to leave after they took their shirts off and, as club staff described it, "started getting hyphy on us," said Lt. Ron Cloward.

It's not known how many people were at the birthday party. About six people at the party were ejected from the club, Ricci said.

About 300 people were in the club. The Fat Cat held a comedy event and dancing that night, Ricci said.

The man celebrating his birthday, Rickey Darnell Hill, 30, of Stockton was ejected from the Fat Cat. Hill tried to go back inside the club, then refused to leave the area, Findlen said. Club security flagged down two Modesto police officers on patrol. Hill was arrested at 12:47 a.m. on suspicion of public intoxication, resisting arrest and interfering with a police officer, Findlen said.

Others in Hill's group refused orders to leave the area. They were arrested on suspicion of public intoxication and on suspicion of resisting arrest or interfering with officers. Some passers-by on the street confronted officers and refused to leave, Findlen said.

Police used a Taser and baton to subdue one man in Hill's group. The crowd was dispersed by about 1:01 a.m.

"The common theme here was excessive alcohol use," Findlen said. "It's pretty clear it clouded the judgment of the people involved."

Bee staff writer Leslie Albrecht can be reached at lalbrecht@modbee.com or 578-2378.

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