The operator of the Ghost Ship warehouse – the scene of a devastating fire that has claimed three dozen lives – clashed last year with promoters of a New Year’s Eve concert there, but no charges were filed.
One of the promoters involved in the January 2015 clash, Philippe Lewis, filed court papers indicating that he was assaulted by Derick Ion Almena, the manager of the apparently illegal venue on 31st Avenue in Oakland.
In papers filed to seek a restraining order arising from the incident, Lewis said he felt threatened after the run-in.
“I'm going to get my gun," Almena reportedly said during the dispute over cleanup costs, according to Lewis’ petition for a restraining order.
Lewis claimed he saw ammunition and even a cross bow in the building.
"I am afraid this person might be unstable," Lewis warned in his petition. Although Lewis told authorities he feared Almena, he stressed that he did not want to press charges against him in the incident.
Lewis claimed that Almena slammed a door on his hand during the clash that began after Almena demanded more money for cleanup. Lewis insisted he had already paid in full.
“Derick’s son had found a condom at the building, and Derick was angry. I explained that things like that can happen at a large party,” Lewis said in a written account to police at the time.
One of the men working with the event organizers says he was the victim of violence. He claimed he was robbed “at Derick’s direction” and even kicked in the head, suffering a dislocated shoulder, when he began to record the clash on his cell phone.
According to a note attributed to Almena, the manager demanded medical expenses for his son in the incident as well as $1,000 for “the in-house cleanup of mass bio-hazard materials.”
The bill totaled $2,100, Almena claimed. He then threatened to go to the authorities if it was not paid.
“Otherwise, we will finalize a complete account of happenings in regards” to the party, the note, contained in court records, warned. “This is a cut and dry case of reckless and illegal disposal of mass biological hazardous materials.”
The note cited the “constant” dumping of waste at the building and threatened to call in hazmat crews for “any and all future” events put on “by the two of you.”
“Along with a classic Derick Ion endless rant,” the author said.
The author called the matter a “complicated and very serious” event involving an “attempted kidnapping” with “recorded evidence” and the “misuse of local and federal law enforcement.”
“I will have a legal notary on hand to witness and document my dismissal of ALL CHARGES upon payment of above mentioned and described.”
But a third man, also an event organizer, backed Lewis’ account of what occurred.
“I saw a door slam on Philippe’s hand a couple times,” the witness said in a statement to police.
None of the purported victims responded to calls seeking comment.
Almena was not beyond going to court himself, records show.
He sought a restraining order in early 2015 against a woman he accused of being a squatter at the Ghost Ship building. He claimed she falsely accused him of both car theft and child abuse. The court did not intervene, however.
In the note attributed to Almena stemming from the New Year’s event, Almena portrayed himself as a victim of “vindictive manufacturing of false accusations and malicious intent" and cited “failed” probes by social welfare investigators related to his children.