The settlement awards $15,000 to each of the plaintiffs who reached the settlement agreement before the two-year statute of limitations expired on the Sept. 10, 2009, raid on the gay Midtown bar. They reached the agreement without filing a lawsuit.
There is another separate lawsuit than the original Eagle lawsuit that was settled by the city in December for more than $1 million.
Dan Grossman, lead attorney in the original Eagle raid lawsuit, is representing 10 other plaintiffs along with Gerry Weber in the current lawsuit that names as defendants Mayor Kasim Reed as well as 25 individual officers that were involved in the police raid. The lawsuit was filed in Fulton County Superior Court. The original lawsuit was a federal civil lawsuit.
The plaintiffs say officers from the now defunct Red Dog Unit and the Vice Unit treated them roughly, forced them to lay in broken glass on the floor of the bar, and used anti-gay slurs against them during the raid. The men also stated they had their IDs checked, a violation of their constitutional rights.
A investigation by the Atlanta Police Department’s Office of Professional Standards found officers violated numerous standard operating policies while conducting the raid.
An independent investigation by high-profile law firm Greenberg Traurig that was led by former U.S. Attorney Joe Whitley also found the APD committed many violations, including violating the constitutional rights of the patrons in the bar the night of the raid.
The investigations also uncovered blatant homophobia by some of the APD officers during the raid.
“Officer Jeremy Edwards (member of the Vice Unit at the time of the raid) for his statement during this investigation said that ‘Seeing another man have sex with another man in the ass, I would classify that as very violent.’ This statement can be conferred as derogatory based on the assumed sexual orientation of those persons he witnessed engaged in such activity in the bar,” according to the OPS investigation.
The OPS report also noted that Sgt. John Brock, who was a key player in organizing the raid, said he forced patrons to the floor because he believed there was violence associated with being in a leather bar:
“There’s a risk factor involved when you’re dealing with people you don’t know anything about. S&M, that — that has a stigma of some violence,” Brock said, according to the report.
In the Greenberg Traurig interview with Brock, he said he believed gay people were more violent.
“In the past I have as a patrol officer handled calls where there are gay couples living in residence where one is mad at the other, and they slash clothes, furniture, anything they can do. They’re very violent. So, no. I definitely do think there was a high risk there. I think the only safe way — and I think you’re getting towards why I had everybody put on the ground,” Brock said.
When asked if Brock thought the gay community was more violent than other citizens, Brock responded that yes they are.
“My experience, yes. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, when they’re — when they get mad, they get really mad. So …,” Brock said.
Brock and Edwards were fired from the APD as well as several others involved in the raid.
Former Atlanta Eagle bartender Chris Lopez has also filed suit against the city of Atlanta and four officers involved in the raid.
He alleges in his lawsuit filed Sept. 9 that his Fourth Amendment rights were violated when he was arrested and then put on trial in Atlanta Municipal Court. The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court, Northern District of Georgia.
Editor’s Note: An earlier version stated the eight men who agreed to a $120,000 settlement with the city had filed a separate lawsuit against Reed and 25 officers. That is incorrect. They reached a settlement agreement with the city after a lawsuit was filed. There are two pending lawsuits against the city regarding the Eagle raid — one in which Dan Grossman and Gerry Weber are representing 10 plaintiffs and another in which former Eagle bartender Chris Lopez is suing. The GA Voice regrets the error.