Two witnesses Wednesday in the murder trial of Dundell Cash described Cash’s odd conduct the night Euan Dougal was gunned down outside what was then Columbus’ Platinum Club on the Manchester Expressway.
One was a doorman at the strip club, the other a waitress.
Cash is accused of unloading on Dougal outside the business about 3:15 a.m. on Nov. 10, 2006, as the club was closing. Despite Army Rangers rushing to the 25-year-old’s aid to try to keep him alive, Dougal died of multiple gunshot wounds.
Among the witnesses testifying Wednesday were John Mansker and Leann Hilton. Mansker was working as a bouncer that night, and Hilton was a waitress.
Hilton said she waited on Cash and remembered what she called his odd behavior.
He kept grabbing at her clothes, telling her she was going home with him, and telling her he was going to kidnap her and keep her, she said.
“I remember he was behaving oddly,” she said. “He was pretty obnoxious.”
At one point he asked her to bring a dancer to his table, saying he knew the performer, Hilton said.
When the stripper came over, Cash propositioned her and told her he would shoot her if she didn’t go home with him, Hilton testified. Dougal overheard this and rolled his eyes, she said: “His frustration was palpable.”
Mansker told the court he remembered seeing Cash that night, because checking IDs at the door was among his duties, and Cash didn’t have one. Typically no one was allowed in without an ID, so Mansker had to get the manager’s permission to let Cash in.
The manager had gone to high school with Cash and let him in, Mansker said.
Cash twice more got Mansker’s attention by violating club rules, Mansker said. Cash stood at the stage to talk to dancers, and Mansker twice told him he had to sit down, because that was not allowed, he said.
Mansker said on the second warning he told Cash, “You’re going to sit down or you’re going to have to leave.”
Later as the club was closing, Mansker was monitoring the entrance, escorting out any female workers who were leaving. Cash was standing outside then, and spoke to a dancer in Mansker’s company.
When Mansker warned him that was inappropriate, Cash replied that he’d spent hundreds of dollars in the club that night, and he wanted some “p---y,” Mansker said, using the slang term for female genitalia.
He said Cash mentioned the earlier ID check and told Mansker he guessed he wouldn’t be allowed in the next night without identification, no matter how much he spent, and Mansker agreed Cash would not gain entrance.
The former bouncer said Dougal was outside then, too, and a dancer Dougal dated came out to kiss him goodnight. Dancers weren’t allowed outside unaccompanied, so Mansker told her to go back in.
As they turned to go back, Mansker saw Dougal standing next to Cash, the two only about 2 feet apart. Then gunfire erupted.
Mansker grabbed the dancer and a waitress and pushed them to the floor inside before he locked the door and ordered all the dancers and waitresses to go downstairs to a dressing room, he said.
Hilton also recalled that moment.
Like Mansker, she said she saw Dougal and Cash together right before the gunshots, and no one else was nearby.
“We were all freaking out,” she said of workers reacting to the gunfire. Mansker pushed her down before telling her to go to the dressing room, and she was downstairs for about 15 minutes before police arrived and the women were allowed to come back up, she said.
Upstairs, Mansker opened a side door to let in Dennis Archer, then a homeless man the club paid to clean up. Archer was banging on the door and begging to be let in, Mansker said.
When Mansker went back outside, he saw the Rangers treating Dougal, having pulled off his shirt to tend the wounds. “Stick with us, man!” he heard them tell the dying man.
Daniel Thompson, then a 21-year-old who’d just returned from deployment, was among those Rangers.
“I was hoping there was something we could do for him,” Thompson testified. He thought Dougal was shot four or five times, and the gun must have been a revolver because no bullet casings were nearby. Unlike semi-automatic pistols, revolvers don’t eject casings as they fire.
Thompson did not see the shooting, and could not positively say Cash was the man he’d seen outside the club.
Mansker testified that right before the shooting, he heard two men shouting. Archer testified he heard someone shout, “Don’t push me!”
Though Hilton and Mansker identified Cash as the man they saw with Dougal, Archer did not, saying he could see only that a white man and a black man were together. He ducked behind a column when the shooting started, and when he looked back the white man was on the ground and another man was running past the Waffle House toward the expressway, he said.
Police said Archer in an interview identified Cash as the gunman who killed Dougal, but Archer denied that on the witness stand, saying he didn’t see the shooting and didn’t pick Cash’s picture from a police photo lineup.
Defense attorney David Wolfe questioned Mansker on his initial statement to police, which did not mention any shouting outside or any previous trouble with Cash inside.
Mansker acknowledged he likely didn’t mention telling Cash to sit down. “It wasn’t like he was tearing the place up,” said Mansker, who earlier had testified, “He was on my mind, let’s put it that way.”
Wolfe told jurors Cash was charged in a rush to judgment, because he happened to be the one witnesses recalled seeing that night at the club, but the witnesses did not see who shot Dougal.
The nightclub at 2525 Manchester Expressway later closed. Cash left Columbus after the shooting, and was arrested Nov. 2, 2008, in South Carolina, after a police traffic stop.