Despite the earliest reports that painted Flanagan as the instigator and aggressor, there were several circumstantial items that shed significant doubt on whether those earliest accusations were true, and as the case moved forward, it seems that the many eyewitnesses who had stepped forward originally became less and less sure about what they saw. An initial list of around 20 witnesses began to fall apart as the contradictory reports rolled in, with reports to both authorities and the press contradicting one another, and Flanagan's version of the events began to be the only one that seemed to add up.
Flanagan had always asserted that he was jumped as he entered the backstage area at Webster Hall with an invitation and credentials hoping to make amends with former bandmates, where he was attacked by several people and he struggled before forcing his way out to the VIP area on the balcony, where he slashed current Cro-Mags Michael Couls and William Berario.
The original reports had Flanagan being carried out with a fractured leg, but that wound turned out to be a laceration, shedding confusion on the number of knives present in the area, and that was probably one of the least suspicious items.
First of all, if Flanagan had been out to do a hatchet job on Cro-Mags vocalist John Joseph rather than burying the hatchet, he could have chosen a better location than a packed venue. As he summed up in an interview with American Hardcore author Steven Blush, "I've known where [Cro-Mags singer] John [Joseph] lives for years. If I wanted to jump him or attack him wouldn't I just go to his apartment and wait for him? Nooo, I would go to a big concert and attack him in a room full of witnesses and all his friends and band members, all by myself."
That comment rings true, if Flanagan's actions were those of a rational person - which is exactly what he seems to be. The former Cro-Mags member is currently a father and a Jiu-Jitsu instructor. In short, he's a disciplined responsible adult with no intention of throwing his life away.
And the fact that he's a martial arts instructor does more to cause closer examination of the events as they were reported originally. It was also reported that Flanagan had bitten Berario in the altercation. Biting really isn't a sound fighting technique for anyone, unless they are A.) a bear, or B.) struggling for their life and employing any last-ditch defenses they have left. A skilled martial arts practitioner is not going to go on the offensive with a snapping jaw - then again, I'm not aware of every martial arts, so perhaps there is a form of jaw-jitsu that does utilize these techniques.
So now Flanagan has gone free, but the lasting repercussions on the New York Hardcore scene are going to linger, as will some other questions. While Cro-Mags vocalist and Flanagan's former bandmate John Joseph was reportedly not present during the altercation, did it happen with his knowledge? And what is next for New York Hardcore?
While I don't have the answer to that las question, odds are good that it won't include a Cro-Mags reunion.