One of the last bills through the 2015 Georgia legislative session, helped give some comfort to a family that lost a son after a Statesboro bar fight last year.
In August, Michael Gatto, 18, of Cumming, Ga, was killed at Rude Rudy’s. Prior to the incident the bar had several violations, but wasn’t shut down.
To make sure it doesn’t happen again, Gatto’s family pursued legislation. They called it: “Michael’s Law.”
On Thursday, it was one of the final bills to make it through the senate. On Friday, Gatto’s father, Michael Gatto, spoke to WJCL by phone.
“I was told from the very beginning not to get my hopes up for anything, that this would be very difficult to get through,” Gatto said. “So the fact that we got what we got, I think it’s a testament to everyone’s effort.”
The bill requires both businesses and municipalities to report infractions to the department of revenue within 45 days. It also requires bouncers to be 21.
The man charged in Gatto’s death, Grant Spencer, 19, of Statesboro, Ga, police said was an off-duty Rude Rudy’s bouncer the night of the attack. And had this legislation been in place, Gatto believes his son would still be here.
“It kind of forces people to follow the law, and that’s what it’s all about,” Gatto said. “And had the law been followed my son would be alive today.”
Gatto said the legislative process was an eye-opening experience. He plans to be back in 2016, because HB 152 doesn’t give him all that he wanted, including mandatory business insurance and staff training.
“I mean you always want more,” Gatto said. “Ideally I want everything that I asked for, but reality kind of kicks you in the face a little bit and you realize that it’s going to be a process.”
As for his son, Gatto said he believes he’d be happy about what he accomplished.
“He paid the ultimate price, and I think he’d be proud of the fact that we can try to prevent that from happening to somebody else.”