Keith and Craig Kovacs say the light blue near 6th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue NW looked like as good a place as any to have an Irish coffee after Sunday's St. Patrick's Day parade. An hour later, they say they found out differently.

The two Crofton, Md., brothers said they were pistol-whipped by several men who had kicked them out of the crowded bar that turned out to be the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge.

An FOP official denies the charge. "Police are not stupid," said Tommy Tague, FOP president. "They wouldn't do anything like that."

Nonetheless, the Kovacs brothers did somehow land at D.C. General Hospital, where they were treated for cuts and bruises to the head and later released. And the D.C. police department's internal affairs division has launched an investigation of the incident.

"I didn't know it was a police bar," said 22-year-old Keith. "I called the police after [the beating] to report all these guys with guns. Then I found out they were cops. It never even occurred to us that they were policemen."

D.C. police reported to the lodge at 7:46 p.m. after the brothers called. But when they got there, the crowded bar had cleared out. Police took photographs of the injured brothers and the blood stains on the sidewalk outside the club.

The bar had cleared out when police arrived, Tague said, because it closed at 8 p.m., and the manager began ordering people to leave at 7:30 p.m.

Tague, a retired D.C. police officer, said the bartender and the manager gave statements to the police and he offered yesterday to give a statement about the incident to the internal affairs investigators.

Keith Kovacs said he and his brother had been in the club for about an hour when a man asked Keith if he were a police officer. He said he replied no, and then was asked to leave.

Keith said he told the man he would leave when his brother, Craig, came out of the bathroom.

He said several men then encircled him and dragged him outside the back door of the club, where his brother had already been taken by several other men.

The brothers said the men then threw them up against a car and searched them.

"One put a gun to my head and cocked it," said Keith. "Then they began beating us with the guns."

The brothers said six to eight persons were involved in the beating, and that the men fled back inside the club after beating them.

Tague tells a different story, however. He said somewhere between 6:15 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. he approached one of the brothers because he had received several complaints from females who said the two had grabbed them.

He said he asked if they were police officers and they told him they were on the New York City police force.

He said the two were unruly so he asked them to pipe down.

After talking with the two men, Tague said he walked away and observed their actions. One of the men again grabbed at a female, he said.

Tague said he then went to one of the men and asked to see his identification. When he couldn't produce any, he repeatedly ordered him to leave, he said. The man pushed him in the chest and they threw him out, Tague said.

The second man appeared from somewhere, and Tague said he told him his friends had been put out because he was drunk and molesting women. Then he said he asked him to leave.

Tague said he, too, refused and was thrown out.

Tague said no one pistol-whipped the two brothers when they were outside the bar, because he helped escort the men out the door.

He said he doesn't know the origin of the bloodstains outside the back door of the club. The brothers say the stains came from the beating.

"This is all bull----," Keith Kovacs said of Tague's version. "They did ask me several times to leave and I did tell them I was waiting for my brother to come out of the bathroom. But I didn't push anybody in the chest. bWe were not unruly . . . I guess our heads accidentally bumped up against .38s repeatedly?"

Said Tague, "It's a damn shame they have blown this thing out of proportion."