After a death outside a bar early Saturday morning, Halifax police say downtown bars should close earlier.

The suggestion comes one day after the homicide of James Philip Mattatall, 23, who died after being knocked to the ground at about 3 a.m. local time Saturday outside an Argyle Street bar.

"We've seen incidents like this before unfortunately, and it's one reason why we've gone on record saying we'd like the bars to close earlier," Const. Brian Palmeter said Sunday.

"When you have a mix of people and alcohol, you do have fights. We've had them before and we'll have them again, but nobody expects them to end up with somebody dying."

Most bars in Halifax must stop serving alcohol at 2 a.m. unless they obtain a cabaret licence from the Nova Scotia Alcohol and Gaming Division, which allows them to serve alcohol until 3:30 a.m.

Palmeter said Mattatall's death was senseless and people need to know a night on the town can be dangerous.

"They have to keep that in mind if they punch somebody then they're ultimately responsible for the end result," he said Sunday.

It's not the first time there has been a call for bars to close earlier. The Toothy Moose Cabaret on Argyle Street faced a Utility and Review Board hearing in 2010 after a series of infractions.

The UARB took the establishment's liquor licence away in March 2010 for five days.

Palmeter said police also are asking anyone who may have witnessed Mattatall's assault to contact them.

Police released a photo Saturday of a man who they say they're trying to locate. They say he may have information on the events that led to the homicide.