Fired Atlanta Eagle raid officer pleads for job back

Mayes, who was a defendant in the original Eagle lawsuit that the city eventually settled for $1.025 million, is also a defendant in another Eagle lawsuit as well as a federal civil lawsuit filed against men who claim he is one of several Red Dog officers who illegally strip searched them in public.

Fired officer’s attorney invokes MLK

During the approximate four-hour hearing, Mayes remained stoic. His attorney, Mary Huber, however, was emotional in her plea that the board give her client his job back.

Huber even invoked Martin Luther King Jr. in closing arguments when asking the board to reinstate Mayes to the department and also asked the LGBT community to show mercy

“I’m going to direct this to the plaintiffs in the [Eagle] lawsuit and to their counsel. The fact that people’s rights were violated — there is no dispute that happened,” she said. “But it doesn’t mean you have to destroy the careers of officers. That’s not necessary. You can do justice without attacking individuals.

“I can guarantee you the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community in their quest for civil rights invoke the name of Dr. King. One of my favorite books is ‘Stride Toward Freedom,'” she said holding up the book written by King.

And in this book, King outlines the principals of nonviolence, Huber said.

“One of the characteristics of nonviolence is you direct your attack against the forces of evil rather than against the persons who happen to be doing evil,” Huber quoted from the book.

City must prosecute, defend Mayes

Huber also said it was disturbing that at the same time senior assistant city attorney Amber Robinson, who argued on behalf of the city that Mayes remain fired, that other city attorneys were representing him in the other lawsuits against the city.

“Ms. Robinson is testifying on her behalf vehemently what a liar this guy is. She doesn’t know him. People who do know him are other members of the law department, representing him now in this case. One member of the law department  is calling him a liar while at the same time they are defending him in court. This is wrong,” Huber said.

“They set this guy up. There is no evidence he intentionally lied,” she added. However, if the board believe Mayes did lie, Huber asked they reduce his firing to a 30-day suspension.

“Stand up in the face of public criticism … and stand up for this officer,” she said.

According to testimony today, Mayes told the Atlanta Citizen Review Board in March 2010 that he did not pat down anyone at the Eagle the night it was raided on Sept. 10, 2009.

However, during investigations conducted by the APD’s Office of Professional Standards and an independent investigation by law firm Greenberg Traurig in May 2011, Mayes said he did in fact pat down at least three patrons during the raid.

Chief George Turner testifies
Chief George Turner, who made the decision to fire Mayes for “lack of truthfulness” in July after the OPS and Greenberg Traurig reports were released, testified at Wednesday’s hearing saying that any officer found to have lied is fired as part of the department’s policy.

“We have a truthfulness policy. We have a policy that we terminate, dismiss individuals for those actions,” Turner said when questioned by Robinson.

Huber argued the department’s policy actually states that city employees are to be fired for intentional lying rather than misstating a fact.

Mayes: ‘I did not intentionally lie’

Testifying on his own behalf, Mayes said when he told the ACRB he did not pat down any of the patrons it was because he did not remember doing so. But during “locker room talk” and other meetings with Red Dog Unit officers as well as watching media reports in the following months after the raid, Mayes said his memory was “jogged” and he remembered specifically what he did that night including patting down at least three men who were on the floor.

According to his recollection when he was questioned by Greenberg Traurig in May, Mayes said he asked the men, who were on their stomachs on the floor, to roll over on their sides so he could pat them down and check their waist bands but did not search inside their pockets.

Mayes also said he did not take the ACRB seriously when he was questioned by its investigators during their investigation.

“At that time I had no knowledge of the importance of the ACRB. There was discussion within our unit if we should go [to answer questions by the ACRB]… if it was a conflict of interest,” Mayes said. “I now know … it’s important to our department.”

Mayes stressed he did not have any intent to lie to the ACRB.

“I did not intentionally lie to the [Atlanta] CRB,” he said, adding that if had the chance to do it all over again he would have spent more time thinking about the raid and what he did before answering questions from the CRB.

Huber described the city’s firing of Mayes as a way to throw police officers “under the bus” after the brouhaha that surrounded the botched raid in the days and now years after it occurred.

“Changes in statements occur all the time and that doesn’t mean someone lied,” Huber said. “[Lying] requires willfulness. There is no need to throw this young man under the bus.”

Robinson, however, said Mayes intentionally lied to the ACRB and asked the board to uphold the firing.

“If he’d told the truth he would have been fine. Nobody was charged with improperly frisking. He would’ve gotten a written reprimand like other Red Dog officers in this case and that would have been the end of it. But he made the choice to lie to [the ACRB],” Robinson said. “We have him cold dead to rights that he lied to the ACRB.”

Photo: Former Atlanta police officer Cayenne Mayes (right) with his attorney Mary Huber. (by Dyana Bagby)