Brooklyn bar owner accuses police of draining his liquor stock

NEW YORK Thu Aug 16, 2012 7:16pm EDT

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - The owner of a Brooklyn bar is suing New York City after police emptied the bar's entire stock of alcohol down the drain in a liquor license dispute, according to court papers.

David Kelleran, 51, claimed in his lawsuit that the police's Prohibition-style tactics violated state law and trampled on his rights. And, in any case, the police got the wrong address.

Kelleran, who owns the restaurant called 68, is seeking an unspecified amount of damages for the loss of alcohol worth "thousands of thousands" of dollars, his attorney Craig Trainor said on Thursday.

According to the lawsuit, Kelleran was notified in July 2011 by the New York State Liquor Authority that his $4,382 check to renew 68's liquor license bounced and he had ten days to make the payment.

Before the ten days were up, Kelleran said police came to his apartment over the restaurant in Brooklyn and arrested him for selling alcoholic drinks without a license. He spent the night in jail, the lawsuit said.

While he was in jail, police went into Coco66, a bar Kelleran owned next door to 68, and poured all his wine, beer and liquor down a drain, the lawsuit said.

Both the bar and restaurant have been closed since, even though the liquor license for Coco66 was valid, his suit said.

"Frankly, it is hard for any reasonable person to fathom that, in 2011, a high-level NYPD ranking officer would order his subordinate police officers to destroy lawful private property in this way," Trainor said in an email.

The city's law department said it was reviewing the lawsuit, which was filed last week in federal court in Brooklyn, but did not offer further comment. A spokesman for the New York Police Department did not respond to a request for comment.

(Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst)

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