Report says officers did not follow procedures, poor planning to blame
The investigations into the botched Atlanta Eagle raid that occurred nearly two years ago were released late Tuesday night by the mayor's office. One report is an independent investigation by law firm Greenberg Traurig that totals 349 pages as well as a 48-page report from the Atlanta Police Department's Office of Professional Standards.
Both reports were due Monday according to a federal court mandated order that gave the city a three week extension to complete the reports.
The city was ordered to conduct the investigations as part of its $1.025 million Dec. 8 settlement with numerous plaintiffs who sued the city in federal court alleging their constitutional rights were violated when APD Vice officers and members of the now disbanded Red Dog Unit raided the gay bar on Ponce de Leon Avenue, forced them to the floor, treated them roughly as well as hurled anti-gay slurs at them.
It’s June 28 — the day after two federally court-mandated investigations into the Atlanta Police raid of the Atlanta Eagle were due.
The city hired prestigious law firm Greenberg Traurig to conduct an independent investigation of the raid, headed up by Joe Whitley, a former U.S. Attorney.
Dan Grossman, lead attorney for the plaintiffs in the Eagle lawsuit against the city, said he has been in close contact with Whitley and believes the firm is in compliance.
The long-awaited city investigation into the Atlanta Police Department’s 2009 raid on the Atlanta Eagle, a gay bar, was to be completed today, June 27, as mandated by a federal judge. The judge also required the report be released to the public when finished.
However, as June 27 comes to a close — a deadline set after the judge gave the city a three-week extension to finish the investigation — still nothing has been released from the mayor’s office or the APD to the public.
Two reports — one from the mayor's office and one from the APD's Office of Professional Standards — were due today as part of the city’s settlement with plaintiffs who sued the city after the bar was raided Sept. 10, 2009. The judge ruled the raid unconstitutional and the city settled the federal civil lawsuit for $1.025 million in December.
A court-mandated investigation into the Atlanta Eagle raid was to be finished next week, but a federal judge agreed to a 21-day extension with the caveat that all materials in the investigation, including transcripts with police officers and bar patrons as well as information on officers' conduct, be made public.
According to court documents filed June 1, the investigation into the Eagle raid by the Atlanta Police Department and private law firm Greenberg Traurig have until June 27 to finish the investigation that has supposedly been ongoing since the days following the police raid of the gay leather bar on Sept. 10, 2009.
The city of Atlanta settled a federal lawsuit in December for $1.025 million. As part of the settlement, the city was ordered to conduct a thorough investigation into the raid within six months, with the original date for the completion of the investigation set for Monday, June 6. The city hired Greenberg Traurig to conduct the court-mandated investigation in March with former U.S. Attorney Joe Whitley heading it up.
The City of Atlanta is apparently rushing to finish an investigation that’s been open for two years into the police raid of the Atlanta Eagle that happened in September 2009.
Patrons and employees who were in the gay bar the night it was raided on Sept. 10, 2009, filed complaints in the days following the raid with the Atlanta Police Department’s Office of Professional Standards. That OPS investigation remains open.
When the city settled for more than $1 million in December with plaintiffs who sued because they said their constitutional rights were violated, part of the settlement agreement included a specific clause that the city had 180 days to complete an investigation into the raid.
The Atlanta Police Department sent in top brass to discuss the new APEX Unit that replaces the controversial Red Dog Unit as well as ways the department hopes to erase its bad reputation among gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender residents.
More than a dozen APD officers, including the LGBT liaisons and members of the new Community Orienting Policing Services unit, packed into Outwrite Bookstore & Coffeehouse on Wednesday for a meet and greet that included a Q&A. The meeting was organized by Philip Rafshoon, owner of Outwrite and who is a member of the APD's LGBT Advisory Group. Several members of the advisory group were also in attendance.
Officers stressed they wanted to rebuild trust with the LGBT community that has eroded significantly since the unconstitutional raid on the Atlanta Eagle in 2009. The city settled a federal lawsuit in December for more than $1 million with patrons of the bar the night it was raided. Also as part of the settlement, the APD must conduct an in-depth investigation into the raid to be completed by June.
A Red Dog officer involved in the raid on the Atlanta Eagle attended the LGBT meet and greet at Outwrite Bookstore & Coffeehouse on Wednesday and said he saw nothing happen the night of the raid.
Brian Walters, now a member of the Community Oriented Policing Services unit in Zone 6 was with other members of COPS at the meet and greet. Zone 6 includes Edgewood, Kirkwood and Grant Park. Walters is listed as Williams Walters in the federal lawsuit filed by bar patrons against the city and individual officers. The suit was settled by the city in December for more than $1 million.
There's an interesting op-ed piece in Creative Loafing today written by an Atlanta Police Department detective who calls on supervisors to provide mentoring to young officers in light of a string of controversies facing the APD.
Det. Ken Allen, president of the Atlanta Police Union (International Brotherhood of Police Officers Local 623), writes in CL that recent accusations against APD officers violating the constitutional rights of citizens are "isolated incidents that are few and far between in comparison to the normal law enforcement behaviors of Atlanta police officers."
While the Atlanta Eagle raid happened more than a year ago, this raid and the officers' behavior were ruled by a federal judge as definite violations of the constitutional rights of the patrons in the bar who were forced to lay on the floor among spilled beer and broken glass while the paramilitary Red Dog Unit illegally searched and detained them. No patrons were charged in the raid and the city eventually settled a federal civil lawsuit in December for more than $1 million.
Members of the LGBT Advisory group to the Atlanta Police Department say they are confused and "insulted" by how long an internal investigation is taking into the unconstitutional raid on the Atlanta Eagle.
The advisory board received a copy of a letter from Chief George Turner to the Atlanta Citizen Review Board saying he was rejecting the CRB's recommendations for punishment of officers involved in the Atlanta Eagle raid. Recommendations ranged from a 30 day suspension of one officer, three-day suspensions for others as well as written reprimands and Fourth Amendment training.
"At this time, the Office of Professional Standards has not concluded its investigation into the allegations surrounding the Eagle file; as further investigative requirements arose as a result of civil litigation that stemmed therefrom," the letter from Turner states. The letter is dated Jan. 25.