Day two in Klamath Falls restaurant trial

January 23rd marked the second day of trial in a nearly 12-million-dollar civil lawsuit against the city of Klamath Falls.

NBC5 News previously reported that the owners of a popular Klamath Falls bar and lounge, El Palacio, claim they were discriminated against and targeted by Klamath Falls police. This comes after former Police Chief David Henslee made an unfavorable recommendation to the OLCC, ultimately leading to the restaurant’s liquor license suspension.

In federal court Henslee, now a Klamath county commissioner, testified that the Klamath Falls Parking District area was a hot-spot for criminal activity. A major point of contention in this case has been why criminal activity that occurred outside the restaurant, was ultimately attributed to El Palacio. The owners feel there is no reason to single out El Palacio when there are other bars in close vicinity.

The prosecution referenced a recorded meeting between Henslee and the restaurant’s owner where the two parties attempted to collaborate on solutions for the criminal activity. In the meeting, the owner pointed out that there are other bars, some within 200 feet of El Palacio, that could also be the source of the activity. Henslee confirmed in court that he said to the owner,

“That’s not my problem,” and “bad people go to your bar… you guys have to figure out how to change your culture.”

Henslee testified that he was referring to a culture of criminality, and not anything on the basis of race.

Court documents say the trial is predicted to last until Friday.

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NBC5 News Reporter Natalie Sirna grew up in Glendora, CA and attended the University of La Verne. She graduated Summa Cum Laude with a degree in English and served as Editor-in-Chief of La Verne Magazine. Her experience as an editor piqued her interest in broadcast journalism. When she's not reading or writing, Natalie enjoys oil painting and playing her electric guitar.
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