In November of 2017, Donald Reinhardt Jr., a bouncer at Thee Dollhouse, was charged with the beating of Markus Rhinehardt (no relation). And while witnesses said two men took part in the beating, only Reinhardt was charged in court. The case was eventually dropped.
Justin Lovely of the Lovely Law Firm said Rhinehardt called his office after the beating put him in the hospital with a broken orbital bone. The Myrtle Beach attorney said he had three doctors’ opinions that his client would never regain full vision in one eye.
The assault happened after Rhinehardt got on stage at the strip club and took his shirt off, Lovely said, adding that he didn’t hurt anyone and the bouncers escorted him out of the establishment before beating him.
“He just went up there as a short fat guy taking his shirt off thinking it’s funny,” Lovely said. “So they escort him out, we’ve got that on video. We also have witnesses that said he didn’t do anything; they just threw him out and started beating [him]. … It was a big to-do because they had to call an ambulance and everything.”
When Lovely’s investigator began asking Atlantic Beach for records and evidence while paving the way for the criminal case and eventual civil case that Lovely had planned to file against Thee Dollhouse, they hit a roadblock.
“We start getting stonewalled,” Lovely said. “Well, first they didn’t respond to our [Freedom of Information Act request]. We got the warrant and we got a one-page incident report. I said, ‘That doesn’t seem right, let me send my investigator.’ And he went up to Atlantic Beach and was like ‘Look, we need to talk to this officer.’”
A warrant showed that the officer in the case was Willard Evans, the same officer who didn’t talk to Amanda Slocum about her rape report after the initial hospital visit.
“At this point, he wasn’t even responding to the solicitor’s office,” Lovely said. “You know, the solicitor’s office, they can’t prosecute a case without having the evidence or any file. So he wasn’t giving them car cams, he wasn’t giving them body cams, I don’t even know if those were there.”
Lovely said the only thing Atlantic Beach ever provided was a one-page police report and the arrest warrant.
“You do more than that,” Lovely said. “There was witness statements taken. [If] somebody gets sent to the hospital, [and] you’re going to raise it to the aggravated level, there should be more investigation. They were taking these witness statements. They wouldn’t have just charged the guy for no reason.”
But Atlantic Beach Police Chief Quentin Robinson said that officers didn’t get some of the critical information at the scene.
“Some of the information wasn’t gathered at the time of the event and I think some of the witnesses didn’t want to write statements,” Robinson said. “We can’t force a witness to write a statement. It’s basically up to them. We ask them, we encourage them to write statements, but we can’t force them.”
Bill Beam, the investigator that Lovely sent to talk to Atlantic Beach and get records, said Atlantic Beach in the past has been the “the worst” department to deal with. With more than 30 years of experience as a Raleigh police officer and private investigator, Beam said he works across multiple counties, including with about 10 different attorneys on the Grand Strand alone. Beam said when he tried to find out Evans’ work schedule in order to talk to him about the Rhinehardt case, the clerk at town hall gave him no information.
“I literally had to do surveillance on the police department to figure out when the officer worked,” said Beam, adding that when he finally contacted Willard Evans, “he was rude and he wasn’t helpful. He basically just blew me off.” Evans did not respond to a request for comment.
Lovely described the whole case as “bizarre.”
“If this happens in Horry County, if this happens in Myrtle Beach, I get the FOIA back, I get full cooperation,” Lovely said. “I work in tangent with the solicitor’s office and the victim’s advocate, they’re helping the whole way and they get a conviction secured. Only in Atlantic Beach does this happen.”
Rhinehardt never got a shot at restitution. He was killed in April 2019 when he was hit by a car in Surfside while walking on the side of the road.
He was 38 years old.