Former Cro-Mags Bassist Won't Be Charged in CBGB Fest Stabbing

Lawyer cites insufficient evidence against client

harley flanagan, cro-mags
Harley Flanagan in 1987 / Photo by Getty Images
Kyle McGovern WRITTEN BY
Kyle McGovern

Assault charges against Cro-Mags founding member and former bassist Harley Flanagan, who reportedly stabbed a current member of the hardcore band in July, have been dropped, according to DNAinfo. Flanagan's lawyer, Sean Parmenter, confirmed that prosecutors dismissed the case following a December 14 hearing, and said they had insufficient evidence to prove the allegations beyond a reasonable doubt.

"This is great news for [Flanagan] and his family," said Parmenter, who added that Flanagan always maintained he acted in self-defense. "He feels vindicated."

Flanagan faced second-degree assault and weapons charges for the July 6 incident, which forced the cancelation of a CBGB Festival show at Webster Hall. As previously reported, Flanagan allegedly went to the venue's upstairs VIP section with a knife around 8:30 p.m., shortly before the Cro-Mags were scheduled to play. Flanagan then allegedly slashed current Cro-Mag bassist Mike Couls in the torso before reportedly biting and stabbing another Cro-Mags member, William Berario, in the face. Police said that Flanagan continued his assault on Couls, stabbing him in the arm. (Depending on the account, Flanagan may have attacked two or three people — DNAinfo and WABC reported two victims, while the New York Post originally reported three). Six members of Webster Hall's security staff reportedly subdued Flanagan, who was hospitalized with a broken leg.

Flanagan claimed that he attended the show to bury the hatchet with current Cro-Mags vocalist John Joseph, who was not injured in the altercation. The two have a troubled history. After being in the band together to record 1986's landmark LP The Age of Quarrel, Flanagan and Joseph appeared to take turns playing in the group. In the '90s, another member of the band allegedly cooperated with Flanagan to report Joseph to the police for being AWOL from the Navy.

In an interview with New York Natives, Flanagan said he was asked to come backstage at the Webster Hall show and then attacked by a group of men. "I was getting the shit beat out of me," he said. Flanagan said he called for security, but when bouncers arrived he was "dragged out onto the balcony area," where "a big guy" stood with both feet on his back and another person squeezed his throat. Then, according to Flanagan, the police arrived. "I, being the sentimental fool that I am, thought that if I actually saw [Joseph] face to face and got to speak to him that maybe it would rekindle some of that friendship that we had," Flanagan said to New York Natives. He added, "Well, evidently I'm the only one that felt that way which is kind of sad."

Joseph disputed Flanagan's account in a statement, saying that the ex-bassist used a CBGB pass for a different event to gain access to the Cro-Mags show. According to Blabbermouth, Joseph admitted that Flanagan was invited backstage, but after the bandmembers searched Flanagan for weapons, a fight broke out. The current bassist said that Flanagan started "stabbing people" and only suffered his injuries after security arrived and he refused to drop his knife. "Bottom line, [Flanagan] was told not to come, he showed up right before we went on, he made threats and then he stabbed people," Joseph said in his statement. "End of story."

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