Atlanta City Council panel recommends entire council apologize for Eagle raid

The Atlanta City Council’s Public Safety Panel is recommending the entire city council make an apology to the Atlanta Eagle after the city’s police department conducted a botched raid of the gay bar last year.

Atlanta’s Fox 5 reported today that the Public Safety Panel made the recommendation for the entire city council apology at its meeting today.

The city council apology would come on the heels of a $1.025 million settlement last week between the city and plaintiffs in a federal civil rights lawsuit. The plaintiffs sued the city after the Sept. 10, 2009, raid after the police illegally searched and detained them, violating their constitutional rights.

Mayor Kasim Reed apologized for the incident, saying it should never have happened. Watch the video of his press conference and apology after the settlement was reached Dec. 8 here.

In addition to the monetary settlement, the city’s police department must make policy changes to ensure such civil rights violations do not occur again during a police action. Changes to Atlanta Police Department’s standard operating procedures include:

• “Police officers may not lawfully detain any individual without reasonable articulable suspicion, particularized to the person being detained (i.e., a “particularized and objective basis for suspecting the particular person”) that the individual is involved in specific and identifiable criminal activity;

• “Police officers may not lawfully take or demand identification, or require an individual to identify himself, without reasonable suspicion, based on objective criteria, that the individual is engaged or had engaged in criminal conduct;

• “Police officers may not lawfully frisk an individual for weapons without a reasonable belief, directed at the particular person to be frisked, that the person is both armed and presently dangerous;

• “The City of Atlanta shall require all Atlanta police officers who are in uniform, other than a rain slicker or traffic direction vest, to wear a conspicuously visible nametag, and to require any Atlanta police officer who is in uniform or has displayed a badge or other indicia of police authority (such as a police vest, etc.), to identify himself by name and badge number upon request at some point before the end of an encounter with a civilian;

• “The City of Atlanta shall prohibit Atlanta police officers from interfering in any way with a citizen’s right to make video, audio, or photographic recordings of police activity, as long as such recording does not physically interfere with the performance of an officer’s duty.”