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Friday, May 24, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Gay Bar Patrons to Get|$1M After Botched Raid

ATLANTA (CN) - A federal judge approved a $1.025 million settlement for the patrons of a gay bar who sued the city and police for violating their civil rights in a bar raid.

U.S. District Judge Timothy Batten Sr. signed the settlement order, "based on the evidence in the record, that each of the above named plaintiffs was unlawfully searched, detained, and or arrested on September 10-11, 2009, at the Atlanta Eagle in Atlanta, Georgia, and that none of the plaintiffs was personally suspected of any criminal activity."

The Atlanta City Council and Mayor Kasim Reed approved the settlement agreement in a resolution, according to the order.

Patrons of the Atlanta Eagle said the Atlanta police officers first blended into the bar as customers on Sept. 10. Then without showing badges or identifying themselves as police, they "began screaming at patrons and employees to 'hit the floor' and get down on the ground," according to the complaint.

Officers made anti-gay slurs and seized driver's licenses and other ID documents "without particularized reasonable suspicion or probable cause to believe that any individual patron, let alone every person at the establishment, was involved in any criminal activity whatsoever," according to the complaint.

By the end of the raid, every patron of the Eagle and of Rawhide Leather, a retail store in the same building, was detained, searched and seized, but not one was charged with a crime, the plaintiffs said.

Dan Grossman represented the 26 men named in the settlement, as well as the Eagle and Rawhide. Defendants included Atlanta Police Chief Richard Pennington, Atlanta and about three dozen officers.

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