Reed spoke to dozens of participants at the Thursday night meeting of the Atlanta Executive Network, the gay and lesbian business organization. He took several questions from those at the meeting, talking for more than an hour.
The mayor also said that an important announcement concerning the Atlanta Eagle would be made in the next week, but declined to say more.
Reed, addressing for the first time the allegations about the city destroying evidence in a federal lawsuit against the city and numerous officers within the Atlanta Police Department, said the allegations are being taken seriously and will be investigated thoroughly. Allegations include city officials erasing phone records and emails. The city has until the end of today to file a response to the allegations.
“I’m going to give you a real answer instead of just saying this case is in active litigation and as a result I can’t talk about it,” Reed said Thursday.
“We are going to investigation every single allegations made…and if we find those allegations are true … then we are going to deal with those individuals in a decisive way that will be public so it will not be private,” he said. “So you will see what we do.
“We’re going to get to the bottom of this and if we find out the assertions are true … we will deal with this in swift fashion. We will deal with these allegations in an aggressive fashion.”
Numerous patrons of the Atlanta Eagle are suing the city and officers of the Atlanta Police Department claiming their constitutional rights were violated when the raid occurred Sept. 10, 2009. The APD is accused of conducting a warrantless search, forcing patrons to the ground as they were searched and had background checks. Allegations of anti-gay slurs by officers during the raid have also been made.
Earlier this month, lawyers representing the plaintiffs filed court documents alleging the city was destroying evidence as part of an apparent cover up of what happened at the Atlanta Eagle the night it was raided.
Reed said he took the allegations seriously especially at a time when he and his administration are trying to rebuild trust with the city’s LGBT community.
He said he was “extremely frustrated” with the recent allegations after the city and his administration have been working hard to improve the relationship with the city’s LGBT community, especially within the police department. He noted two LGBT liaisons are now on the force and that an LGBT advisory board has also been revived to help be a bridge between the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community and the APD.
Reed also reiterated the “horrible events” that happened at the Eagle did not happen under while he was mayor.
“I want to make that crystal clear,” he said.
He also said, as he has said in the past, that when the raid did happen he was a state senator and was able to speak out against the raid, but now as mayor what he says about an active lawsuit has ramifications.
“This is really tough for me,” he said.
He said a “pretty significant announcement” is forthcoming about the Atlanta Eagle raid as well.
“It will speak to the LGBT community about how important what is going on with the Eagle [and what it means] to me personally,” he said.
When asked why Reed won’t simply end the lawsuit, the mayor said “because no offer to end the lawsuit” has been made.
The plaintiffs’ attorneys have said repeatedly the lawsuit could have been settled — or not even filed — if the mayor apologized and agreed to change current APD policies when it comes to police raids.
But Reed said he can’t just apologize because while the lawsuit has nine plaintiffs, there were more than 50 people in the bar the night it was raided.
“There is concern that other people would sue,” Reed said. “If nine agree to the settlement and I apologize … this is not as easy as it looks. Those not in the lawsuit still have a cause for action.”
Dan Grossman, lead attorney for the Atlanta Eagle plaintiffs, said an offer was made in February for a possible solution to this potential issue but it was rejected by the city.
“I am still open to talking to the mayor about a way to resolve this case, but neither Mayor Reed nor his attorneys have ever offered to discuss settlement, and they have turned down all of our offer to discuss the subject,” Grossman said today.
To see photos of the AEN meeting last night, click here. Here is a video of Reed addressing the allegations: