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Citizen panel: 24 ATL cops mistreated Eagle Bar patrons
Atlanta police should take steps against 24 officers for improperly detaining dozens of patrons at the Atlanta Eagle gay bar in a 2009 raid, a citizen oversight panel said tonight.
Recommendations for disciplining specific officers should wait until investigators figure out different levels of blame, the Atlanta Citizen Review Board decided.
But several members nodded in agreement when board chair Joy Morrissey said the maximum penalty under APD personnel rules — a three-day suspension — was too lenient. “Amen,” one member added.
Officers of the APD Vice Squad and Red Dog unit ordered patrons to lie face down on the floor of the Eagle for up to an hour even though none were suspected of a crime, the board’s investigation found.
Some patrons’ driver’s licenses or other identification were taken forcibly, the CRB found, and none were allowed to leave until police had checked for outstanding arrest warrants against them.
Supervising officers should also face discipline for allowing officers to use profane and homophobic language during the raid, the board said.
Officers were overheard making statements such as “Raiding a gay bar is fun” and “We should do this every week.” But the CRB staff said it could not single out the culprits because no officer would admit making or hearing those statements.
The Atlanta City Council created the board in 2007 in the aftermath of the fatal police shooting of 92-year-old Kathryn Johnston in a botched drug raid.
The board’s recommendations to the Police Department are advisory only. So far, the department has never disciplined an officer based on the board’s findings.
The 24 officers found liable by the board for false imprisonment of Eagle bar patrons are:
Sgts. John Brock, Willie Adams III and Kelley Collier; Officers Melonie Mague, Robert Godwin, Stallone Davis, Jeremy Edwards, Dimitri Jacques, Dione Merideth, James Menzoian, Cayenne Mayes, Christopher Dowd, Craig Condon, Brandon Jackson, Marlon Noble, Stephanie Upton, William Porter, William B. Walters, Vincente Marcano, Darnell Perry and Jared Watkins; and Investigator Bennie E. Bridges.