The Atlanta Citizens Review Board will take up its investigation into the Atlanta Police supervisors of the gay bar the Atlanta Eagle raid next week after postponing today’s meeting due to snow and ice. The meeting is set for Wednesday, Jan. 19, at 5:30 p.m. at City Hall in Committee Room No. 2.
The CRB, with lesbian Joy Morrissey as its chairperson, has taken a strong stance against the way the APD handled the illegal raid on the gay bar that led to the city settling with plaintiffs in a federal lawsuit for $1.025 million last month. The CRB is an independent agency made up of civilians and was created by city ordinance in 2007 to review complaints from citizens against the APD. The city formed the citizens review board after the tragic case of Kathryn Johnston, an elderly woman who was killed during an illegal narcotics raid.
Cris Beamud, executive director of the Atlanta Citizens Review Board, told the GA Voice last month the opinions of the CRB about the raid have been made very clear through its investigations of a dozen complaints filed by those in the bar that night.
“We sustained the allegations of false imprisonment — the board has been pretty clear on its opinions [on how the bar raid was handled],” she said.
In September, the board did find the APD guilty of false imprisonment of the patrons in the bar when it was raided Sept. 10, 2009, over alleged illegal sex activities. The city was unable to prove anything illegal was taking place in the bar the night it was raided.
For the finding of false imprisonment, the board can only recommend to APD Chief George Turner a written reprimand or up to a 3-day suspension of the 24 officers of the APD’s vice squad and paramilitary Red Dog Unit accused of violating the rights of the bar’s patrons and employees.
That was not nearly harsh enough punishment, said Morrissey.
So the board called for its staff to conduct an in-depth investigation into what happened during the controversial Atlanta Eagle raid and determine what supervisors were involved, including those who signed off on the raid.
The board also wants the CRB staff to investigate the standard operating procedures of the APD and if they were followed during the raid. The board will make recommendations for discipline of the officers after the study is completed.
Chief George Turner has never responded to the CRB’s recommendations about the raid. City policy requires him to respond within 30 days.
The CRB stated at meetings it wanted to ensure that officers following orders were not the ones to take the heat and that supervisors running the operation should also be held accountable.
In August, the ACRB also sustained allegations that abusive, anti-gay and racist language was used by APD officers during the raid, including the allegation that an officer said, “Raiding a fag bar is fun. We should do this every week.”
And in June, the ACRB ruled that David Shepherd was falsely arrested by the APD the night of the Atlanta Eagle raid. Shepherd was off-duty at the time of the raid and in his upstairs apartment, located above the bar, when he was arrested by officers.