During the 45-minute hearing, Jones said the Farmington Avenue restaurant should not be penalized and contested two alleged violations of the town's entertainment ordinance – one on May 14 and another on May 26 – by saying the ordinance is not specific ...
Los Imperios Restaurant & Lounge will not be allowed to play live music for the next 15 days after West Hartford Police Chief Tracey Gove decided to suspend the Farmington Avenue restaurant's entertainment license.
Last Wednesday, members of the police department, Deputy Corporation Counsel Kimberly Boneham, the restaurant's manager Ernesto Leon and its attorney Rodvald Jones met for a hearing on the possible suspension, detailing three specific incidents officers deemed as infractions to a relatively new entertainment ordinance.
In a three-page letter to Leon Monday, Gove said "nothing was presented at the hearing by either you or your attorney concerning any plans to prevent further disturbances inside or immediately outside of Los Imperios."
During the 45-minute hearing, Jones said the Farmington Avenue restaurant should not be penalized and contested two alleged violations of the town's entertainment ordinance – one on May 14 and another on May 26 – by saying the ordinance is not specific on how quickly Los Imperios' staff should notify police about incidents, and how they should notify police about incidents. Jones said staff worked with police during their investigations and at the time of those fights, staff was too busy addressing the incidents at hand to have someone call the police.
Gove, in the letter, said Leon and Jones' "attempt to characterize your staff's conversation with the police, after the incident was reported by the victims, as satisfying the requirements of the ordinance is disingenuous at best, and falls far below the standard required" in the ordinance.
"It is my understanding that you believe that because the two fights had been reported by the victims to officers who were outside in the general vicinity of Los Imperios, those reports made the 'immediate' standard in [the town's ordinance]. In addition, because your staff cooperated in assisting the officers with their investigations, that cooperation was considered to be 'reporting' to the police," Gove said.
Under the ordinance, fights or disturbances are to be reported to police "immediately."
For the May 14 incident, Gove said police were made aware of the incident — a fight broke out inside the restaurant — but not by anyone on staff. Gove, in the letter, said the man who claimed he was assaulted called his mother to report the incident, his mother relayed it to his sister, who called police at 1:16 a.m. That phone call lasted over six minutes, Gove said, and doesn't take into account the calls being re-routed from state police to dispatch. "There was clearly time for a member of your staff to contact the police department," Gove said.
For the May 26 incident, Gove said police became aware of a fight between two patrons and a female security guard when it was reported by both of the female patrons and not Los Imperios staff.
"The recording of the call to dispatch indicates these women had time to leave the building, confront some employees outside and then cross the street to speak with police officers parked in the gas station," Gove said. "Yet you claimed at the hearing that your staff did not have the time to call 911 to report this, even though it was a staff member that was assaulted."
Last October, the town created an entertainment ordinance to curb frequent disturbances around West Hartford Center. The ordinance requires restaurants to shut down music a half-hour before closing and gives Gove authority to review a business' incident report history and decide if a police detail is necessary for public safety.
On Thursday, Gove sent Leon another letter about a potential fourth violation for an incident on July 7. At around 11:50 p.m., an officer assigned to the area noticed a "large commotion" in front of Los Imperios involving Leon yelling at a large crowd of about 20 people in front of the main doors, and some patrons were complaining because others paid $10 to move to the front of the line to get inside.
Gove said the fourth violation would lead to a 30-day suspension, but since the last complaint was still pending he would not impose the suspension.
Calls to the restaurant's attorney were not immediately returned.
Los Imperios Restaurant & Lounge,West Hartford CT news