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|Major in botched Atlanta Eagle gay bar raid announces retirement|
|by Dyana Bagby|
|July 07, 2011 16:36|
Debra Williams, who was demoted from major to lieutenant on the Atlanta Police Department in the wake of last week's devastating investigations into the department's raid on the Atlanta Eagle, is retiring from the force.
Williams, who served 27 years on the force, announced her intentions to retire on Wednesday, July 6, APD spokesperson Carlos Campos confirmed to the GA Voice Thursday. The retirement went into effect Wednesday.
Williams was demoted from major after it was determined in the independent Greenberg Traurig investigation of the raid on the Eagle, a gay Midtown bar, that she was ineffective as supervisor of the raid. The APD's internal affairs unit also found Williams' supervision inadequate.
“Major [Debra] Williams, as the highest ranking ... official failed to adequately supervise the Eagle Investigation. In addition, Major Williams presented an inaccurate statement to the public regarding APD policies and procedures,” the Greenberg Traurig report states.
According to the Office of Professional Standards investigation conducted by the APD also released last week, Williams “failed to follow up with Lt. Tony Crawford on the progress of the investigation after directing the lieutenant to handle the complaint received from City Hall of illegal activity at the Atlanta Eagle Bar.
"Major Williams stated she was not aware of the raid until the following day on the radio while en route to work. In addition, the major attended a press conference in regards to what occurred at the bar where she erroneously stated that it was the department's policy to run GCIC [background] checks on all persons present at the raid. Supervisory employees shall ensure the proper conformity to department policies and procedures.”
Williams' demotion was handed down last week along with seven other officers put on administrative duty after the investigations after it was determined they violated standard police policies, including lying.
In an interview with the GA Voice on Tuesday, Mayor Kasim Reed noted Williams' demotion, saying it was harsh punishment.
"That is a severe demotion and has not been customary in the city of Atlanta. We are taking swift action. We are going to do more. It is a beginning, not an ending," Reed said.
Campos said Turner is still looking into further disciplinary actions against other officers involved in the raid.
The Atlanta Eagle was raided on Sept. 10, 2009, by members of the APD's Vice unit and the now disbanded paramilitary Red Dog Unit after anonymous tips were sent to the police alleging illegal sexual activity was taking place at the bar. Eight employees were arrested for permit violations but either had their charges dismissed or found not guilty.
Numerous patrons sued the city in federal civil court alleging their constitutional rights were violated when they were forcibly searched and detained while they had their backgrounds checked. The city settled with the plaintiffs in December 2010 for $1.025 million. As part of the settlement, U.S. District Judge Timothy Batten ordered the city to conduct a thorough investigation into the raid.
Top photo: Debra Williams, lieutenant with Atlanta Police Department, announces retirement in the wake of Atlanta Eagle investigation (courtesy APD)
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