Veteran Punk Rocker Accused of Stabbing Ex-Bandmates Claims Self-Defense
MANHATTAN CRIMINAL COURT — A veteran punk rock bassist charged with stabbing and biting two members of his former band during a melee at a CBGB festival at Webster Hall claims he only acted in self defense, after his ex-bandmates assaulted him.
"They had it in for me — I got jumped," said Harley Flanagan, 45, a founder and ex-bassist of the influential hardcore band, the Cro-Mags, after an appearance in Manhattan Criminal Court Thursday. "They attacked me — beat me and stabbed me."
Flanagan was arrested late Friday and charged with attacking Michael Couls, the band's current bassist, 33, and William Berario, 35, another band member, in a dressing room before the Cro-Mags were set to perform at the CBGB festival.
Flanagan is accused of slashing Couls in the torso after sneaking into the backstage area. When Berario tried to put a stop to the assault, Flanagan allegedly turned on him and bit him in the face, before stabbing him above the left eye.
Then Flanagan went back to attacking the first victim, stabbing him in the arm, police said.
But Flanagan, who lives in Queens and works as Jiu-Jitsu teacher, offered up a very different version of the night.
Flanagan, who's had an admittedly rocky relationship with his former band colleagues, said he went to the show with the intention of burying the hatchet. He claims he was invited into the dressing room by his former bandmates, then was attacked.
"There were seven or eight guys — big guys — trying to kick me into a bloody mess and leave me for dead," Flanagan said, who declined to discuss the specifics of the brawl further. "They shut the door on me and attacked me."
He claimed Couls has long been associated with a gang in the hardcore punk community known as DMS — who he's had a long-standing feud with. "What DMS does is go to shows, beat people up, intimidate people," said Flanagan."They're bullies and thugs."
"I've always been disgusted by what they do," he said. "I've stood up to that and it put a target on my head."
Flanagan, the father of two young boys, claims he was stabbed in the leg during the incident and received 30 stitches.
"I wanted to make peace," said Flanagan. "I'm a dad, I have no criminal record — why would I ever jeopardize that?"
Flanagan was charged with second-degree assault and criminal possession of a weapon. But the District Attorney's office has yet to bring his case before a grand jury, and he has not yet been indicted, according to his lawyer.
"The investigation is not complete," said Flanagan's lawyer, Sean Parmenter.
Prosecutors did not respond to a request for comment on the case.
Flanagan is due back in court on Sept. 27.