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After service dog turned away, Surfside Club owner misses court date; warrant issued

He's now set to appear Thursday
Posted at 6:06 PM, Jul 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-22 10:00:17-04

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — The owner of a Douglas County bar the Sheriff’s Office cited for turning away a woman with her service dog could face more consequences after missing his arraignment on Wednesday.

Douglas County Judge Marcena Hendrix issued a bench warrant for Surfside Club owner Mike Walker for failing to appear. Walker, reached by phone after, said he made a mistake.

"Oh my gosh,” he said. “I guess I thought it was the 22nd.”

A document filed late Wednesday shows he's now set to be in court Thursday.

Learn more: Local bar said no dogs; owner cited for interfering with service dog

Walker already faced a possible penalty of up to three months in jail and up to a $500 fine for allegedly telling Sarpy County resident Valerie Powell she had to leave Surfside with her service dog on May 23.

He was set to be arraigned Wednesday in Douglas County Court on that misdemeanor charge of denying a disabled person entry to a public-facing business. The failure to appear charge could add to that. Online court records still showed the warrant as active when courts closed Wednesday.

The ticket the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office issued listed his court date as July 21, at 1:30 p.m. Walker said he would call the prosecutor’s office and try to get things cleared up.

Legal experts told Sanderford that Walker might be able to get the bench warrant removed. Walker says he plans to fight the original charge as well.

Powell shared video with 3 News Now at the time that showed Walker telling her to leave with her service dog, Bear. Walker has said the video is selective in what it shows.

Powell says the dog helps her maintain her balance and stay calm. She showed us her documentation. But she prefers Bear keep a lower profile. He wears no special vest or collar.

State and federal law prohibit bar and business owners from asking more than two questions about service dogs. Is the animal required because of a disability? And what is the animal trained to do?

Omaha City Prosecutor Matt Kuhse, whose office prosecutes misdemeanors countywide, confirmed on Thursday morning that Walker contacted his office about having been confused about the date. The prosecutor said he would not object to canceling the bench warrant during Thursday afternoon’s hearing.

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