Police raided a Louisville bar Tuesday night, and a video posted on YouTube shows police searching patrons and employees before allowing them to leave.
The video was recorded by a patron at Cahoots, a bar in the popular Bardstown Road entertainment district, and posted online.
“Show of hands, who has something on them that they shouldn’t have?” asked the officer, who said police would pat down every customer. “We’re going to start over here in this corner. We’re going to work our way around, and if we go by, if you’re clean, you get to go out the front door.”
Police said they were assisting the Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) office of metro government investigate possible violations of the bar’s liquor license.
But attorney Thomas Clay said the officers broke the law by frisking patrons without probable cause.
“It appears the actions of one of the officers — who clearly had the word ‘police’ labeled across the back of his shirt — were illegal and unconstitutional,” said Clay, an employment litigation and defense attorney.
He said officers should have been limited to asking for identification to prove they were of legal drinking age, if the raid was indeed related to the bar’s liquor license.
Several commenters on the YouTube video claimed the bar was known as a place where drugs were bought and sold.
“Someone is always selling coke or pills in the bathroom when i’m there,” said Justin Stewart. “Not saying this is right, but there was definately (sic) good reason to be suspicious of people having drugs on them with intent to sell.”
Clay said a search warrant would have been necessary if police suspected illegal activity in Cahoot’s, described by Google Maps as a “dive bar.”
“They would have to go to a judge and seek a search warrant, (and) they would have to establish probable cause that criminal activity was going on at these premises,” Clay said. “That’s what should have been done if they wanted to search these patrons.”
The bar’s owner said police never served a search warrant, and she said police locked the front and back doors and searched about 40 patrons.
One customer asked about their rights, an employee said, and a police officer told him he had “the right to shut up.”
Officials from the ABC office did not return calls for comment on the raid, which resulted in one citation.
A 19-year-old woman was cited for being underage in a bar, but an attorney for Cahoots said she had an entertainment exemption because she performed there as a “hula girl.”
Watch video of the incident posted online by Devon Arnold: