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Off-duty bouncer charged in assault on man in Grand Forks bar that broke all his facial bones

A Grand Forks man appeared in county district court on Wednesday for allegedly assaulting another man in a downtown bar, breaking nearly every bone in his face and giving him a concussion.

According to the criminal complaint, officers found victim Jason Hunter, 29, standing in front of Joe Black's Bar with his nose bleeding and his right eye swollen shut at 1 a.m. on April 22.

Hunter had been upstairs playing pool at Joe Black's when he was attacked, he told the Herald on Wednesday.

"I was playing pool and he came up behind me. He didn't punch me from what I heard... he slammed my head into the pool table," Hunter said, who added that he didn't remember what happened because he passed out during the attack.

Hunter and two witnesses identified the alleged attacker as Tony Cooper, 24, an off-duty bouncer from Joe Black's.

Bar co-owner Joe Schneider said Cooper had worked only a handful of shifts at the bar and was fired after the incident. At Cooper's court appearance on Wednesday, he said he works at in Grand Forks.

Cooper is a powerlifter who weighs 272 pounds, according to the Magic City Muscle Powerlifting website. He can bench-press 407 pounds and deadlift 518, results from a state powerlifting championship held in Minot on April 30 show.

Hunter said the assault left "basically every bone that could be fractured in my face...fractured, except for my lower jaw."

He didn't know Cooper before the attack, he said, and has never talked to him.

The only motivation for the attack that Hunter could think of was that he had thrown a piece of ice at a friend on the bar's first level that might have hit Cooper by mistake.

"If I would've seen it hit him, I would've apologized," Hunter said.

Attempts to reach Cooper on Wednesday were unsuccessful. According to the North Dakota courts website, he has no criminal history. He was released on a $3,000 bond after his court appearance on Wednesday.

Hunter said he had to have facial surgery and miss work for a month after the incident. He has returned to his job at Rydell Chevrolet selling car accessories, but he is not sure he will hit the bars anytime soon.

"I don't know if I'll be doing the whole downtown bar scene, not after that," Hunter said.