Mayor Kasim Reed: Time to bring ‘painful episode’ of botched Eagle police raid to end

Mayor Kasim Reed says it is time to “bring the painful episode of the past to an end” after another multi-plaintiff lawsuit was filed against the city and officers with the Atlanta Police Department over the botched and unconstitutional raid of the Atlanta Eagle gay bar in 2009.

The press release from the mayor’s office was issued late today after the GA Voice repeatedly sought comment from the city in light of the new lawsuit filed Sept. 8 in Fulton County Superior Court by 10 patrons of the bar.

The full text of the press release:

Nine months after the $1.025M settlement of the Calhoun v. Pennington lawsuit (Atlanta Eagle case), another lawsuit has been filed against the City of Atlanta.  As the statute of limitations was set to expire, Mr. Grossman and Mr. Weber openly and actively solicited new clients for this second lawsuit. Despite Mr. Grossman’s public statements that the original lawsuit was never about money, he and Mr. Weber now suggest the City “forced” additional individuals to file suit in order to receive “fair compensation.”  That suggestion is incorrect.  In fact, after good faith negotiations with the City, eight of their new clients recently agreed to a settlement, and the City attempted to settle with the remaining plaintiffs.

Mayor Reed and the City of Atlanta have worked diligently to bring this dispute to a conclusion and move beyond the events of the past.  However, constant litigation continues to overshadow the significant reforms that have already begun at the Atlanta Police Department.

As a result of the Calhoun litigation, Mayor Reed personally apologized for the conduct that occurred at the Eagle as well as the harm caused that evening.  He took this action against the advice of the City Attorney who said that no apology should be made until after the case was fully resolved and the statute of limitations had run. The Atlanta City Council joined Mayor Reed in an expression of regret and authorized payment of the settlement.  In addition to paying monetary damages and attorneys’ fees to the 28 plaintiffs, the City of Atlanta agreed to numerous actions reflecting the sincerity of the Mayor’s apology and commitment to reform.

Since the events at the Atlanta Eagle Bar in September 2009 – which occurred months before the Mayor took office – Mayor Reed and the Atlanta Police Department have:

·Settled the Atlanta Eagle case for $1.025M;
·Disbanded the Red Dog Unit;
·Fired six officers and disciplined 14 others involved in the Atlanta Eagle incident, including several high-ranking officers;
·Released an exhaustive 300-plus page independent investigative report on officer conduct compiled by former U.S. Attorney Joe Whitley of Greenberg Traurig;
·Completed an internal investigative report on officer conduct;
·Revised applicable Standard Operating Procedures;
·Conducted LGBT diversity training for APD officers and non-sworn officers;
·Required additional training in critical procedural areas, including search and seizure;
·Appointed two APD LGBT liaisons who have been working effectively to ensure that the LGBT community has a direct link to the police department; and
·Attended multiple town hall and small group discussions.

The City of Atlanta and the Atlanta Police Department are in compliance with the settlement negotiated in the Calhoun lawsuit.  It is time to continue reforms within the police department and improve the relations between the City and the LGBT community.

Mayor Reed, the City of Atlanta and the Atlanta Police Department are committed to working with the entire community to ensure we have one of the most professional, most inclusive police departments in the country.  We have made these commitments, implemented significant reforms, settled with the original plaintiffs and eight new plaintiffs, and paid for the plaintiffs’ attorneys’ fees.  It is time to bring the painful episode of the past to an end.