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|Atlanta Citizen Review Board found similar illegal conduct in Eagle raid a year ago|
|by Dyana Bagby|
|June 29, 2011 16:31|
The independent investigation into the Atlanta Eagle raid by high-profile law firm Greenberg Traurig and the Atlanta Police Department’s own internal affairs investigations revealed a slew of illegal activities by officers involved in the raid. But it should be noted that many of these same infractions were disclosed a year ago — by the Atlanta Citizens Review Board.
In January, the ACRB released its full investigation into the raid on the gay bar, also finding evidence that officers continually lied during the investigation, violated the Fourth Amendment rights of the patrons in the bar the night it was raided, as well as used anti-gay slurs toward patrons. The ACRB began its investigations in the Eagle raid last June, finding the police officers guilty of many illegal activities, including illegal search and seizures and false arrests.
“The findings and recommendations made by the law firm of Greenberg Traurig are very similar, not identical, to the findings made by the ACRB,” said Cristina Beamud, executive director of the ACRB.
The ACRB "was established by city ordinance as an independent agency in 2007 (amended May 2010). The purpose of the legislation is to ensure that city departments directly responsible for public safety, particularly the Police Department and the Department of Corrections have the proper support of the government and its various agencies. It is designed to provide citizen oversight of misconduct accusations against sworn members of the police and corrections departments in the City of Atlanta."
“The ACRB made these findings a year ago and no action has been taken to date to correct the problems that were identified by the board. The city hired very competent legal staff to find many of the same violations that were identified by the ACRB,” Beamud added.
“This certainly undercuts the notion that the Atlanta Police Department can regulate themselves,” Beamud said. “It should not take 18 months and a 343 page report to identify and correct this type of conduct.”
The cost of hiring Greenberg Traurig and former U.S. Attorney Joe Whitley to conduct an independent investigation into the Eagle raid is unknown at this time.
Beamud noted that both the ACRB and Greenberg Traurig found many officers not being truthful about what happened during the raid in the investigations that followed the Sept. 10, 2009 incident.
“We can all agree that the officers were lying,” she said. “But the city cannot afford to hire a Greenberg Traurig every time something like this comes up.”
In its acknowledgements, Greenberg Traurig does thank the ACRB for its hard work in its own investigation into the unconstitutional raid: “[W]e commend and acknowledge the Atlanta Citizens Review Board (“ACRB”) for their important work and earlier investigation into this matter,” the firm states at the beginning of its report.
The firm also acknowledges Dan Grossman, lead attorney for the Eagle plaintiffs in the federal civil suit against the city, for “bringing the issues addressed in this report to light and providing useful information relating to this report.” The law firm's report also thanks Mayor Kasim Reed and Chief George Turner for not attempting to impede the process.
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