“These were not isolated incidents. The Atlanta Police Department for years has a pattern and practice of strip searching people in public, pulling down their pants, exposing them to public view, without probable cause, in violation of the law,” Grossman said.
Two of the plaintiffs — Jason Walker and Kacy Daniel — said they felt the strip searches they received were sexual in nature.
Kacy Daniel said he and his cousin, Antonio Daniel, both plaintiffs in the lawsuit, were strip searched on May 10, 2010, in the parking lot of a strip mall on Oak Street. The two were sitting in the car belonging to Antonio’s mother waiting for Antonio’s mother to get a manicure when APD officers approached them with their weapons drawn. They were told to get out of the car “or they would shoot [them] in the head,” the lawsuit states.
Kacy Daniel said today when he was strip searched he felt he was touched in a sexual and inappropriate manner when an officer cupped his testicles not wearing gloves.
Jason Walker, another plaintiff who said he was strip searched on Sept. 30, 2009, also described the officer who strip searched him as being sexually “inappropriate” when touching his genitals.
Grossman said in an interview that his clients are saying that it appears at least one officer may be conducting the strip searches — including the pulling down of pants and underwear and groping a plaintiff’s genitals — for personal “sexual gratification.”
Public strip searches are also used as the ultimate form of humiliation, Grossman said.
“He uses his bare hands and clients have described him as cupping their testicles while one also said it felt like the officer was stroking him,” Grossman said.
Grossman represented the Atlanta Eagle plaintiffs in their successful federal lawsuit against the city for the botched police raid on the gay bar that resulted in the city settling for more than $1 million. He is also representing 10 more Eagle plaintiffs in a second lawsuit stemming from the Sept. 10, 2009, raid.
The plaintiffs in the strip search lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, are Jason Walker, Kacy Daniel, Antonio Daniel, Vance Perry and Trenton Boyd.
APD spokesperson Carlos Campos said the department does not comment on pending litigation.
Mayor Reed issued a statement Tuesday evening. The statement reads in part:
“Since I have been Mayor, I have worked not only to make Atlanta citizens safer, but also to improve their relationship with the sworn officers of the Atlanta Police Department. I firmly believe that the vast majority of our men and women in blue respect both the law and the rights and dignity of our citizens. They chose to become police officers to serve, protect, and when necessary, place themselves in harm’s way.
“While I cannot comment on the specific claims made in the federal lawsuit filed today, I take every allegation about police misconduct very seriously,” said Reed.
Defendants are Mayor Reed and Officers Stalone Davis, Brandon Jackson, Christopher Lanier, Cayenne Mayes, Juan Ortiz, Reginald Pettis, Dimitri Caldwell, Antonio Blasini, Zoel Murphy, Luca Amarena, Victor Guevara, Derek Chao, Darnell Perry and John Doe 1. John Doe 1 is described in the lawsuit as an African-American male. The lawsuit lists a specific officer who may be John Doe 1 but is not certain that the officer was involved.
Cayenne Mayes was fired for his illegal actions during the Eagle raid. Brandon Jackson, also involved in the Eagle raid, was fired for an unrelated incident.
Photo: Dan Grossman, who represented the Atlanta Eagle plaintiffs in a federal lawsuit, is representing five men who allege the Atlanta Police Department illegally strip searched them in public. (by Dyana Bagby)