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City to Pay $400K to Patron After Gay Bar Raid

Macon Telegraph via YellowBrix

March 23, 2011

FORT WORTH, Texas — The city of Fort Worth agreed Tuesday to pay $400,000 to a patron at a gay bar who was severely injured in a police raid two years ago, a settlement that avoided a federal civil rights lawsuit.

Chad Gibson claimed his head injury was caused by excessive force used by Fort Worth police officers and Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission agents during the Rainbow Lounge raid, which sparked numerous protests and rallies in the gay community.

The City Council voted unanimously without discussing the settlement. Mayor Mike Moncrief told reporters afterward that it was not an admission of city liability or wrongdoing by officers, but “an attempt to put this behind us and move forward.”

“Our diversity in this city is our strength,” he said. “It is not a weakness, and we can’t afford to let it become one, nor will we.”

Three Fort Worth police officers were suspended after the raid, and two agents and a supervisor with the state’s liquor board were fired.

The city went into mediation earlier this month after Gibson’s attorney said he would file a federal civil rights lawsuit – which would have no monetary limit – against the city and the liquor board, said Gerald Pruitt, the deputy city attorney.

Fort Worth already reached a $40,000 settlement with the other plaintiff, George Armstrong, who said he suffered a torn rotator cuff during the raid. That deal did not require the council’s approval because it was less than $50,000, Pruitt said.

“George is going to need surgery on his shoulder, and now he’s going to be able to do that,” Don Tittle, the Dallas attorney representing Gibson and Armstrong, told The Associated Press. “Chad continues to get treatment and he has improved.”

The June 2009 raid came on the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall riots, the unrest that followed a police raid on a New York gay bar and fueled the U.S. gay rights movement. Fort Worth police said they knew nothing about the anniversary when planning what they said was a routine liquor license inspection for a new business. Authorities also denied that the bar was targeted because it caters to a gay clientele.

Two state liquor commission agents accompanied six Fort Worth police officers to the bar that night. But some police officers ran inside, responding to an officer’s calls seeking help with a customer resisting arrest. The two agents were wearing improper attire – shirts that said “state police” – and didn’t tell the owner they were doing an inspection. Six people, including Gibson and Armstrong, were arrested. The charges have since been dropped.

Gibson fell face-down on the pavement after being arrested, and some witness accounts of the circumstances differed from what authorities reported. He suffered from a blood clot behind his right eye and was hospitalized for a week.

Fort Worth police and the state liquor board conducted their own investigations, and both determined no excessive force was used. However, both agencies started diversity training for employees and began revising various policies and procedures.

Tittle said the parties worked in mediation as if the lawsuit had been filed, but there was a better “spirit of cooperation” since it was not in litigation. He said the state liquor board also was involved in the mediation but declined to comment further.

Carolyn Beck, a spokeswoman for the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission, said Tuesday that she could not comment until an agreement was finalized.

  • Impd_max50


    over 3 years ago


    all Politics.

  • Pug_max600_max50


    over 3 years ago


    No one wants to touch this. There where several TABC agents were canned for not following protocol. Very political.

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 3 years ago


    it is state law in Texas that you can't resist an arrest, even if the person believes the arrest to be false or unlawful.

  • John_groh_max50


    over 3 years ago


    Bump DCCarr on this one. Not enough information here.

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 3 years ago


    As a State Trooper for Texas, I can say that Alcohol Agents are NOT "State Police" so yes, they were out of uniform. I disagree with throwing large sums of money at a problem to avoid a legal battle. The Officers were making an arrest and the suspect resisted. It doesn't matter if someone is gay, straight, black, white, or green, when an Officer tells you that you're under arrest and you resist, then expect to get hands on attention! $400,000 is alot of money that could have been used for jobs, health care etc. and the City just hands it away without a fight!

  • Blue_ine_max50


    over 3 years ago


    Mn_Mapuche- You must have more details about this incident then is discussed in the article, because I didn't read anything that makes me think anyone deserved to be fired.

  • Ocp-me_max50


    over 3 years ago


    Like the article says, the city is not admitting guilt or wrong doing of any of their officers, which is why none of them were fired. The State fired two Agents for wearing non-departmental clothing during a raid and failing to follow procedures set in place for raids. The supervisor was fired by default for allowing the Agents to wear the clothing and not ensuring the Agents notified the owner prior to the raid.

    Good job officers, and good job Agents on this raid. It is too bad the Agents were fired, but had they followed their policies, they would not have any grounds to fire them on. So, ultimately, good job on the raid. You helped get criminals off the streets...

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 3 years ago

    I'm not happy about what the officers and agents did here. I'm glad the city is trying to make ammends and move on with a different plan/procedure. Although I think what happened had nothing to do with the fact that it was a gay bar they raided. I'm happy some of those involved were fired. They should be!

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