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The day after a patron was fatally shot outside H2O, the Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington sent a letter to police chief Cathy Lanier objecting to her summary suspension of the club’s liquor license. Here’s the text of the letter:

Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington
May 28, 2007

Cathy L. Lanier
Chief of Police
Metropolitan Police Department
Metropolitan Police Department Headquarters
300 Indiana Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20001

RE: H2O Restaurant; Summary Suspension of Alcoholic Beverage License

Dear Chief Lanier:

We are extremely concerned by the summary suspension of the alcoholic beverage license of one of our members, H2O, in the wake of the killing outside of the premises on Sunday morning.

Although our information comes only from published reports and we may not have all of the facts provided to you by police investigators, it seems that this tragic killing was not in any way the fault of the establishment. The fact that the incident occurred does not necessarily mean that there is “an additional imminent danger to the health and welfare of the public” by not closing the establishment. Moreover, Hinder DC Code Section 25-827(bX2), it would seem that any perceived threat to the health and welfare of the public could have easily been addressed by limiting the hours of the establishment until the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board has an opportunity to review this matter. Indeed, it is our understanding that the licensee offered to close pending further review of the incident which offer utterly obviated the need for an immediate suspension of the license.

It is the position of our organization that absent exigent circumstances, all alcoholic beverage licensees should be entitled to a hearing before adverse action is taken against the business. Although it is true that the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board must hold a hearing within 96 hours to continue the suspension, the stigma of an unnecessary license suspension only compounds the difficulties faced by a business which bis suffered the negative public relations brought about by a killing outside its doors.

Based on newspaper accounts, it appears that this horrible incident occurred between two criminals, one of whom kept an illegal firearm in his car, but never even brought it into the establishment. We are at a loss to understand how a restaurant can or should be held accountable for acts of violence perpetrated by those with illegaJ handguns outside its premises. As our members are concerned by the precedent set by your action in this case, we would like to meet with you concerning the use of your summary suspension power in the future.

Very truly yours,

Andrew J. Kline
General Counsel, RAMW

cc: The Honorable Adrian Fenty, Mayor Dan Tangherlini, City Administrator Chairman Vincent C. Gray, DC Council Councilmember Jack Evans Councilmember Jim Graham Councilmember Carol Schwartz Councilmember David Catania Councilmember Phil Mendelson Councilmember Kwame R. Brown Councilmember Mary M. Cheh Councilmember Muriel Bowser Councilmember Harry Thomas Jr. Councilmember Tommy Wells Councilmember Yvette Alexander Councilmember Marion Barry Chairman Charles Burger, ABC Maria Delaney, Director, ABRA Roderic Woodson, Esq. Paul Cohn, Chair, RAMW Lynne Breaux, President, RAMW (all via e-mail and first class mail)