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SHOCK: Texas Alcohol Commission Admits: Agents ‘Violated’ Policy In Bar Raid

fortworthbarraid

While the Ft. Worth Police tries to find reasons to excuse the violent behavior that ensued during a raid on the Rainbow Lounge, the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission is finally owning up.

The TABC, which teamed with FWPD to conduct a series of raids on June 28, admits wrongdoing. The commission’s administrator, Alan Steen, says his agents committed “clear violations” of policy, which resulted in, among other things, Chad Gibson’s extended hospital stay with a brain injury.

And that’s not all: The supervisor overseeing the raids that night … has resigned. Last week he left TABC (voluntarily or under pressure, who knows) as an internal investigation mounts.

The two TABC agents, who joined six cops on the raid, sought approval for the inspection from the supervisor; Steen says approval never should have been granted because there wasn’t sufficient cause for suspicion. (What, you mean spotting a drunk guy coming out of Rainbow Lounge two days before doesn’t count?) The twosome remain on desk duty.

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Says Steen in an interview with the Dallas Voice, which he initiated: “I don’t think you have to dig very deep to figure out that TABC has violated some of their policies. We know that, and I apologize for that. Like I said in my original press release, we have in the past and we will in the future act very swiftly in making sure that those issues are corrected. It’s real clear that however it is that we were doing business that night is not the typical TABC. … I have good policy in place, I have good training in place, and I have good supervision in place to ensure that things like this don’t happen. … You can read that policy and you can figure out really quickly, TABC shouldn’t have even been there. … If our guys would have followed the damn policy, we wouldn’t even have been there. … We have these conversations all the time, and we don’t participate in those kinds of inspections when there’s not probable cause or reasonable suspicion or some public safety matter to be inspected.”

He’s also “very, very interested in and committed to” creating a liaison post between the TABC and the gay community.

Steen’s words do a number of things. First, it’s a giant “we’re sorry.” It’s what the local gay community has been demanding — of the no-strings variety. Second, it’s a message that the TABC knows this is a serious issue, and wants to make good. It also did so by pushing out the supervisor in charge of the raid, and by committing to an open dialogue with The Gays. And third, and perhaps most importantly, it throws the Ft. Worth Police Department’s litany of excuses under the bus. One the night of June 28, the authorities violated standard procedure, committed gross acts of negligence and violence, and need to own it.

By:           editor editor
On:           Jul 17, 2009
Tagged: , , , , , , , ,
  • 11 Comments
    • Helga von ornstein
      Helga von ornstein

      I doubt if a lawsuit will go very far. Many Texas gay men tend to think like their hetrosexual counterparts in viewing a lawsuit seeking monetary awards as too “minority” and un-american.

      Jul 17, 2009 at 10:36 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • galefan2004
      galefan2004

      This is all well and good, but now they need to put their money where their mouth is and pay the person that they put in the hospital a nice little sum to compensate.

      @Helga von ornstein: I disagree entirely. I think that they see frivolous lawsuits as un-American but suing the agency that left you in a coma for days isn’t frivolous its justified. That being said, I think the person that was left in a coma is the only one that should sue in this case.

      Jul 17, 2009 at 10:57 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Helga von ornstein
      Helga von ornstein

      @galefan2004: This is going to start a firestorm of responses both pro and con but here is how I see it were I a patron in that bar.

      These guys come in ARMED and wrestle a man to the ground causing him to go into a coma. Had his partner or whomever he was with intervened in what was clearly an unjustified act they too could have been in the same situation/condition and have no doubt guns would have been drawn. If they “saw” a reason to slam the man on the floor imagine if they “saw” a weapon in the hands of a bar parton and drew their guns and “accidentally” fired hitting a customer whose only crime was going to a bar filled with other gay men?

      And let’s not go into the psychological effect it will have on the customers the bar needs for survival, many of whom I would not be surprised used it for happy hour and just general socializing. Ever wonder what it does to the psyche of other patrons when a police car stops in front of that bar next time for whatever reason? You are correct, frivolous lawsuits regarding name calling or being told “were full” while others seem to have a VIP pass to enter a bar does sound frivolous but in this case it sounds more like borderline terrorism on behalf of the FWPD and company.

      Whether they realize it or not every person in that bar was in danger because it is clear they were all guilty and the FWPD considered it more or less a turkey shoot before they walked in there. I would sue. Sitting in a bar in Missouri back in the 1980’s a cop told two men who were sitting together “he” was going to ignore their cuddling “this time”. You go figure.

      Let us also remember frivoulous is all in the eye of the reader, not the victim(s).

      Jul 17, 2009 at 11:32 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Donald
      Donald

      Let’s remember that we still do not know when the injury occurred. Ft. Worth Police still contend that it happened outside while Mr. Gibson was in TABC control. However, some patron claim this is not the case and it happened while Mr. Gibson was wrestled to the ground by Ft. Worth Police officers. If that is Mr. Gibson on the ground in the picture as some have contended, would it not be easy to prove by matching the soles of the shoes? Why has this not been pursued as part of the proof that Ft. Worth Police used excessive force and were responsible for his injuries?
      It still sounds like the Ft. Worth Police are trying to lay the entire blame on TABC and they (Ft. Worth Police) were there as back up for TABC to do a bar check for compliance. However, in light of the recently disclosed report of the intoxicated man 2 days before, the conflicting statements between police and bar partons, and the statement by Mr. Steen, Ft. Worth Police had a set agenda in mind the night of the raid. Discrimination, harassment, and intimidation.

      Jul 17, 2009 at 11:54 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Cam
      Cam

      Lets be thankful that people had cell phone cameras. If they hadn’t the police would have lied and said that the young man attacked them and nobody would have believed a “Bunch of Queers” in Texas. Becuase of the photos and press attention they are now forced to deal with this travesty. I know that the press and blogs can get a bad wrap sometimes, but I’m really thankful that they picked up on this story!

      Jul 17, 2009 at 12:16 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • TANK
      TANK

      One pound of flesh, nothing more and nothing less. Someone needs to lose their job over this, at least. And someone needs to win a lawsuit.

      Jul 17, 2009 at 2:27 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • galefan2004
      galefan2004

      @Helga von ornstein: My only response would be that when I used to go to Akron there was a police welcome party for all the gay people that came from out of town. My first time there I still had my pride sticker on my car. The police pulled me over for no reason, claimed that I must be on drugs, demanded to search my car, searched my car and then gave me three sobriety tests.

      There were two male officers and I didn’t even have a single drink of alcohol at the time all of this went on. The psychological aspect of it is that I hate cops and every time I see a cop or a police car I see them as a violent thug instead of someone that would be helpful in any given situation. However, I didn’t sue and just dealt with it. Oh, and I never again had a pride sticker on my car.

      Jul 17, 2009 at 2:35 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • JamesR
      JamesR

      My favorite bar in Ft. Lauderdale, The CubbyHole, is wired – 5 computers for customers, wireless for laptops, satellite TV(s) and jukebox – this is the 21st century. It also has a simple, cheap (really cheap nowadays) video security setup. simple video cameras on the bar and the entrances and on the computers, etc, on a loop of a few weeks – such that if something happens or is discovered to have happened there it is, kept private and never viewed unless a problem were reported. For the customers and their protection – not on the staff out of distrust. Not Big Brother – Big protective bar owner. For those in the 21st century not in the closet glad for some discrete backup record keeping. Not rocket science. I actually have come to feel comforted by such watchfulness, like there is in most stores nowadays, but from a place I trust for good reason and would have my back if trouble were to enter.

      The local police know this and are glad of it, Ft. Lauderdale police & BSO have generally civilized relations with the bars and those LGBT.

      I have been told it’s illegal or inadmissible to record the police. (Without their permission which they will never give.) Yet those laws were written only regarding audio recording. Security video is visual. Rudimentary security system? – a few hundred dollars. Catching the police assault your customers and lie about it? – priceless.

      Jul 17, 2009 at 9:01 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Helga von ornstein
      Helga von ornstein

      @JamesR: I am not so sure about that part where you said it was illegal to audio record the police without there permission.

      In NYC a police detective was dismissed from the force and will serve jail time in regards to physically abusing a suspect and lying about it to investigators. It turns out the person who was violently interrogated had hit the record button on his $12 MP3 player and got this guy red handed from beginning to end. AND IT WAS VIOLENT AND PHYSICAL WITH THE WORD FAGGOT USED MANY TIMES.

      Another officer faces jail time as well because he was caught on audio planting drugs on an 18 year old kid who hit his record button just in time to catch the officer not only wishing him luck on getting a jury to believe him when he protested and tried to runaway but telling him if he did not shut up he would put crack on him instead of pot and shoot him.

      I am 100% behind police officers in NYC who are not trying to fatten their paycheck via bogus arrest and ruin peoples lives forever due to a record that will never be removed or cleared because of the nature of what they are charged with.

      What these officers did was so juvenile and dangerous goes beyond comprehension. I wonder if they were on overtime when this occured. Nothing surprises me. There entire story from beginning to end sounds like high school football players are running around town with the power of life or death on their hips and the law on their side. This is dangerous and should not be taken lightly.

      Oh and just to let you all know this one last thing. The officer who fired 32 bullets at a car that was not firing back at him (nor was a weapon even found on the victims) from his .40 caliber pistol not only had been recommended for termination from two different supervisors for insubordination before the car incident is still on the force, gun and all.

      Jul 17, 2009 at 11:11 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • JamesR
      JamesR

      @Helga von ornstein – NY has some different wiretap laws, relating to evidence, than a lot of other states it would seem from cases I seem to remember. Different from Maryland and from Florida for sure. The use of recordings as evidence depends on many factors, much of which are simply what the prosecutors and judges allow or choose to overlook. If an mp3 player were ‘accidentally’ activated versus premeditatedly attempted to selectively entrap – or used in another state – or challenged as evidence, who knows? Various cases are always interersting, it is always necessary to know your rights and insist upon them at all times or they tend to go away…

      Just as Federal wiretap laws require either a warrant or notification and permission for one to record much less record and use as evidence any phone call, that is made via wire – cellphone conversations are all fair game as they are broadcast. Our patchwork of laws is weird.

      I was told about the not-recording-cops from an Internal Affairs investigator while discussing a complaint against one in his department. I have heard it from cops and ex-cops since. Of course you *can* record them it’s just not legal evidence. It’s something you could show cops investigating cops so they’d know but you’d never hear what happened from it. However he did recommend video without sound. Specifically mentioned was a Rodney King style video, with documented false arrest with injury. Less than that – Good Luck. [Tough Shit.] Of course we work with what we have and what we can get, non-admissable audio + internet humiliation and outrage always good.

      My complaint went into a black hole somewhere from my perspective but no doubt went into a file and added to what all his co-workers undoubtedly knew. The officer in question was an angry perverted martinet with issues making my neighborhood miserable. (No beatings or false arresting, of me.) When I was done citing my reasons and asking what I could do (I asked if I could carry a recorder for legal evidence) the IA detective paused and smiled and said “Why don’t you just go on a date with him and get it over with?” To which I stammered, after I picked my jaw up of the floor, “…I might if I thought it would.” [I wouldn’t have.] I really had tried to not go into the closet-case homophobic voyeuristic etc. part of the behavior, but, of course, the cops really do know their own. I hear the officer had since gotten desk duty, partially due to bad knees. All that squatting to peep, etc. And that he wants to run for a Judgeship after brown nosing around the courthouse enough. Power may corrupt but those who desire to seek it are already more than halfway there.

      Jul 18, 2009 at 12:58 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Roast Suckling Pigs
      Roast Suckling Pigs

      “What these officers did was so juvenile and dangerous goes beyond comprehension.”

      What those officers did was CRIMINAL, not juvenile–CRIMINAL assault. Not to mention the lies in the police report about bar patrons making sexually suggestive movements toward the officers. Not to mention the FWPD Police Chief repeating the false allegations in a news conference and failing to note that the falsely accused patron was female…..just leaving the allegation hanging out there as if a bunch of gay men started coming on to the police officers.

      The officers who assaulted patrons that night need to be thrown in prison. The officer who filed the false statements needs to be thrown in prison. The police chief who deliberately distorted the false allegations in order to (further)prejudice the public against gays and lesbians needs to be fired.

      And don’t forget about Patrick Pogan, the rookie NY cop busted on Youtube for attacking a bicyclist during a Critical Mass group bike ride, and then LYING on the police report to say that the bicyclist rode directly at him. (No, cops NEVER lie on police reports.) Pogan was fired from the force and is facing criminal charges for the assault. The victim filed a $1.5M suit against the city about a week ago. I’d give him triple that

      Jul 18, 2009 at 1:41 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·

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