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|Second Atlanta Eagle lawsuit to be filed against city|
|by Dyana Bagby|
|September 06, 2011 07:41|
Patrons of the Atlanta Eagle the night the gay bar was raided on Sept. 10, 2009, and who were not part of the original federal civil lawsuit, plan to file suit later this week against the city of Atlanta and individual police officers involved in the raid.
The suit will be filed by Sept. 9 — before the second anniversary of the raid and the statute of limitations expires for people seeking claims against the city. People who were in the bar the night it was raided and not part of the first lawsuit are being asked to come forward to be part of the second lawsuit before Friday, Sept. 9.
“It is time for the City of Atlanta to put the Eagle matter to rest, but time and again the actions of the city show that city leaders just ‘do not get it.’ The Eagle raid victims should all be fairly compensated and reforms must be fully implemented,” said attorney Gerry Weber in a statement.
Weber is working with attorney Dan Grossman on the second lawsuit. Grossman was the lead attorney representing patrons of the Eagle in the first federal civil lawsuit.
“It is disappointing to watch the city force victims to file a lawsuit to receive fair compensation for what they experienced during an illegal raid that was motivated by prejudice and [anti-gay] bigotry,” said Grossman in a statement.
With the statute of limitations approaching, Grossman and Weber are seeking people who were patrons in the bar the night it was raided to contact them via email or by phone if interested in being part of the second lawsuit. Grossman's contact information is [email protected] and 404-654-0326. Weber's contact information is [email protected] or at 404-932-5845.
In the press release from Grossman and Weber issued this morning, three objectives are listed for the second lawsuit: "Fair compensation for what they experienced during the raid; procedural reform prohibiting Atlanta police officers from destroying evidence in future cases; and full compliance with the settlement agreement negotiated in the first Eagle lawsuit."
"The plaintiffs in the new lawsuit have attempted to negotiate an out-of-court settlement with city attorneys over the past month but have not been successful. The parties have mutually agreed to keep all specific details about these negotiations confidential," states the press release from Grossman and Weber.
The first federal lawsuit was filed in November 2009 and the city settled with the patrons of the raid for $1.025 million in December 2010. Mayor Kasim Reed apologized to the plaintiffs in the lawsuit and vowed something like this would never happen again.
“The city has once again chosen the most expensive and difficult way to resolve this painful matter," Grossman added in the statement about the new lawsuit.
When the lawsuit was settled in December, a federal judge ruled the raid on the Eagle as unconstitutional. Two scathing investigations conducted by the Atlanta Police Department and the law firm Greenberg Traurig found the officers involved in the raid violated the constitutional rights of the patrons in the bar who were forced to lay face down in the bar as they were roughly treated while being searched and detained.
The investigations also found that some officers were anti-gay — including one officer who said gay people were more violent — and their bias contributed to the treatment of the patrons in the bar when it was raided.
The raid on the bar was initiated by two anonymous complaints saying there was illegal sex and drug use taking place in the bar, however, nobody was arrested and charged with any of these alleged crimes the night of the raid.
Mayor Kasim Reed and APD Chief George Turner are expected to participate in a town hall forum discussing the Eagle raid on Nov. 1.
In an interview with GA Voice, Reed said he was "shocked" by the findings of the investigations into the Eagle raid and promised the Atlanta Police LGBT Advisory Board he would call for a more in-depth investigation as to why more officers were not fired.
Grossman said in July another lawsuit may be filed against the city because it was not implementing police reforms that were mandated in the first lawsuit.
Last month during the Atlanta LGBT Advisory Board's monthly meeting, Grossman discussed the statute of limitations ending, saying Reed and the city were very well aware of the deadline and were waiting for it to pass.
Top photo: The Atlanta Eagle (file photo)
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