Broadway Joe's Liquor License Renewed

By Rachel Martin

April 9, 2012 Updated Apr 9, 2012 at 11:15 PM EDT

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Indiana’s NewsCenter) – A local bar where a man was killed in a police action shooting in November, can still operate for another year despite opposition.

Because of actions taken to increase safety at Broadway Joe’s Tavern, 2415 Broadway Ave., the Indiana Alcohol and Tobacco commission approved renewing the bar's liquor license for another year Monday morning.

Joe Lebrato owns the downtown bar. Two hearings were held before the Commission’s approval, one on March 12, the other Monday. Fort Wayne Police officers attended the first hearing and complained about the numerous calls they receive from the bar, and expressed concerns of possible gang activity. One officer pointed out a red bandana tied to the gutter.

Lebrato's attorney and witnesses refuted the accusations saying there's never been gang activity, and the bandana represented Antron Pearson, the man killed during the police action shooting Nov. 26. Pearson was a regular at the bar and carried the bandana in his pocket. The bandana was used in as a makeshift memorial for Pearson.

Due to all the controversy, Lebrato says he's made several changes to increase safety at the bar. He says he fired his old security guard who had a history of drug trafficking charges, and hired a new security guard who cards and pats down patrons at the door. Only one person is allowed in the restroom at a time, and he's also installed security cameras and outdoor lighting.

Tavern employees say these changes have deterred the less desirable clientele who used to come around. Lebrato's attorney says the renewal is not a victory over FWPD as they need their support. Their goal is to make people feel safe and comfortable in coming to the tavern again.

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