The events of an early-morning bar fight that sent a man to the hospital with a brain hemorrhage will take center stage at this week's Wichita City Council meeting.
At issue is whether the owner of Doobley's bar at 767 N. West St. should lose his liquor license for interfering in the crime investigation.
Wichita police said that because Robert Crandell lied to officers investigating the case, he should lose the license for his club on West Street and another license he holds for a Doobley's bar at 2415 W. 31st St. South.
Police are taking the action under a city ordinance that says a liquor license can be revoked for "any crime involving ... moral turpitude on (a) premises where alcoholic liquor is sold by such licensee." The law defines moral turpitude as a crime involving dishonesty.
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Crandell pleaded no contest last year to a misdemeanor count of obstruction of justice. His lawyer, Jim Thompson, said Crandell planned to fight to keep his license.
"They're trying to put an honest businessman out of work," Thompson said. "Of all the clubs out there that have issues, the city is going after this one? There's absolutely no basis for it. In my opinion they're overreaching."
A letter sent to Crandell by Chief Norman Williams last month said the incident that led to the revocation attempt began at 1:26 a.m. on June 1, 2010, when police were called to the West Street bar to investigate the report of a man down. Officers found a 53-year-old man outside who was suffering from life-threatening injuries.
Before police arrived, the letter said, the assailant came into the bar and told the manager that he had "knocked an old man out in the parking lot." The manager told the man, "We'll take care of it," according to the letter.
After police arrived, the letter said, Crandell told officers that the victim had arrived at the bar shortly before he was beaten. In fact, the letter said, he "had been drinking inside Doobley's for some time prior to the battery."
"Due to your deceptive statements to the investigating officers, you were charged with Obstruct Legal Process, a misdemeanor offense."
Court records show that Crandell and his manager were both charged with felony counts of aiding a felon but the charges were reduced in plea agreements to misdemeanors.
The assailant was charged with attempted second-degree murder and pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of aggravated battery.
In a letter to the City Council, Thompson said that the state law on obstructing the legal process defines the crime as "obstructing, resisting or opposing" a law enforcement officer during his official duty. Nowhere does the law mention dishonesty, he wrote.
"Mr. Crandell is a young disabled businessman who suffered a stroke several years ago," the letter went on to say. "He plead(ed) guilty to the alleged misdemeanor offense ... to avoid the costs, expenses and stress of going to trail.
"He never would have accepted the plea if he knew it would deprive him of his livelihood and only means of financial support."
Thompson said he and Crandell would appear at Tuesday's City Council meeting. He said he was told that police would have at least one representative there.
After hearing their statements, the council will have the option of imposing a fine or temporary suspension, or revoking the license permanently.
If the license is revoked, Thompson said, the revocation will take effect immediately. If that happens, he said, he plans to go directly to Sedgwick County Courthouse to ask for a temporary injunction that would allow the bars to remain open while the case is being appealed.