Crime & Courts

Lawyer: Police are picking on bar

Wichita police say El Farol Rojo is a bar serving underage drinkers and riddled with problems.

The lawyer who represents the bar at 1030 S. Broadway says police are trying to shut down the business because they couldn't prove their case in court.

Wichita's City Council will be the judge today, when council members are asked to uphold a 30-day suspension of the drinking establishment's license.

"I guess this is supposed to be an appearance of due process, as opposed to an actual fair hearing," said Christopher O'Hara, the bar's lawyer.

O'Hara said the arrests that police are using as reasons to suspend the bar's license were dismissed by city prosecutors.

"It's an unusual situation, because normally when you see these suspensions coming it's because of conviction," O'Hara said. "In this case, there has not been a conviction of any sort. It's our position they're not guilty of these offenses."

Police reports say the incident stems from officers finding a 20-year-old from Texas drinking at the bar. The minor, the bartender and a doorman were cited.

Both charges were later dropped, police say, because the minor did not appear in court to testify.

"The dismissal was not caused by a defect in the criminal investigation, and the department has elected to proceed with administrative action," Chief Norman Williams said in a letter to the bar last month.

Police say El Farol Rojo is a threat to public safety.

"This club has been the scene of numerous violent incidents, narcotics and liquor violations," Williams wrote.

It's the club's third citation for serving minors since 2008.

"The Police Department, for whatever reason, appears to be picking on them," O'Hara said. "It appears they're picking on the place because it's an Hispanic-run business."