Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Jazz Pianist Remains in Critical Condition; Foul Play Ruled Out

The family of jazz pianist Hilton Ruiz have release an official press statement declaring that the serious injuries Ruiz sustained on Friday, May 19, were the result of an accident.

Law enforcement, medical staff at East Jefferson Hospital, private investigators and lawyers have assisted the family since Hilton Ruiz was found on Bourbon Street, unconscious and with many of his face bones broken. Together they have come to the conclusion that no second party was at fault.

It has been difficult to gather information in the case, as Ruiz remains unconscious. When Ruiz's family arrived a few days after the incident, they wanted to be sure there was no foul play, and they are now satisfied that Ruiz was involved in a terrible accident, not an assault.

Ruiz arrived in New Orleans Thursday, May 18 to complete filming for a DVD and CD musical project entitled "Going Back to New Orleans" for the M27 Record Label (www.m27world.com). The production of the CD had been a labor of love for Ruiz who had been deeply affected by the destruction to the city following Hurricane Katrina. Ruiz performed at musical benefits in New York City last fall for Katrina victims and part of the proceeds from this new CD project was also intended to benefit Katrina survivors.

The family would also like to ask for support during this difficult time, and for others to join with them in praying for his full recovery.

"This has been a devastating event for our family but we are thankful for the love and support which we have been receiving from the New Orleans community. My father loves this city so much and he was so excited and thrilled to be here and to participate, even in a small way, in the recovery of the City," said Aida Ruiz, Mr. Ruiz's daughter.

Friends and fans of Hilton Ruiz who would like to help are invited to contribute to a fund established to defray medical and other expenses related to his treatment and recovery. Funds may be donated at any branch of Chase Bank.


Blogger NorthRoad said...

The bones in his face were broken and it was an accident?

Sounds like he ran into the New Orleans Police Department.

Too bad the video cameras weren't around for this one.

It's a murder charge now.

RIP Hilton Ruiz.

8:12 PM

Blogger NorthRoad said...

Look how the original story has changed.

"Bleeding badly and his face very disfigured...

Medical examiners say he clearly received a blow to the face with a heavy, blunt object."

How do injuries like that happen "by accident?"

Why has the story changed?

Because the police investigation showed no foul play?

Give me a break.

The hospital is clearly contradicting its original story.

The unnamed private investigator? Who? Is he in bed with the police. Many are. After all, he's got to live in New Orleans.

The family? With all due respect, easily manipulated in this trauma by police BS.

And the police... nothing stolen, just an out-of-town person of color lying in the gutter with his face bashed in.

That has New Orleans police written all over it.

We've seen the video from the last time they did it.

I can imagine Mr. Ruiz not realizing the danger he was in when he failed to show these thugs "proper deference."

What a disgrace.

I don't know what's worse. The thugs who did or the news media that reports the BS cover story. It's not even a good one.

8:27 PM

Blogger NorthRoad said...

Foul play ruled out my a##


Janet McConnaughey / Associated Press

The family of the late jazz pianist and composer Hilton Ruiz has sued a Bourbon Street dance club, saying he was attacked and beaten there and the club's bouncers failed either to protect him or to help him afterward.

"We are very confident there are people out there who are aware of what happened to Mr. Ruiz in that club in the early hours of May 19," attorney Scott Galante said Monday. "We are urging people and pleading with people to come forward to my office or the New Orleans Police Department with their information."

Ruiz, 54, of Teaneck, N.J., died June 6, about 2 1/2 weeks after he fell in front of the Club Utopia, named as the defendant in the negligence lawsuit filed by his daughter, Aida Ruiz. He excelled in a wide variety of styles from Afro-Cuban rhythms to the blues, and had come to New Orleans to make a video to go with a benefit recording for Hurricane Katrina victims.

After he had been in the Utopia for several hours, the lawsuit alleges, Ruiz was attacked by several people. The club's security workers "failed to intervene in any meaningful fashion," or to call an ambulance for Ruiz, but instead threw or escorted him out and "abandoned" him even though he was clearly unable to make his way to safety, the suit alleges.

Fred Woodruff, manager of the Utopia, said that, as far as he knows, that never happened.

"We have no knowledge of that whatsoever," said Woodruff. He had not heard about the lawsuit, which was filed last week in Civil District Court.

Woodruff said he has not reviewed the club's security tapes, and police have not asked to see them.

Galante said, "Obviously, it's something we're seeking," but wouldn't comment when asked whether he had asked the club for its tapes.

Ten days before Ruiz was hospitalized, an altercation involving five people inside the Utopia led to a murder just outside, police have said. In that case, a man argued with three women who refused to accept drinks from him, hitting one with a bottle and punching another, and then shot and killed the man who escorted the women outside to wait for an ambulance, police said.

Police have said they first investigated the injuries to Ruiz's face and head as an attack, but witnesses and other evidence all indicated that they were the result of a fall early May 19.

He never regained consciousness.

Police spokeswoman Bambi Hall said the department is cooperating with the family's lawyers, but stands by its investigators' original conclusion. "We can't speak to what Utopia did or did not do," she said.

Mary Howell, the first attorney retained by Ruiz's daughter and ex-wife, also named Aida, said while Ruiz was still alive that his family was convinced that Ruiz had accidentally tripped or fallen.

But the younger Aida Ruiz then retained Galante.

(Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

12:12 PM


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