Update from Reese McCranie, spokesperson for Mayor Kasim Reed:
"The new lawsuit claims that every named plaintiff was subjected to improper treatment, including persons the City cannot confirm were actually present at the Eagle during the time of the operation. At this preliminary stage of the lawsuit, the City has not had an opportunity to interview these new plaintiffs and confirm their presence, so the City had no choice but to deny those allegations at this point. Had these new plaintiffs joined in the original Calhoun lawsuit instead of waiting for the outcome of that case before coming forward, the City would have been able to confirm their presence and include them in the previous settlement."
The city of Atlanta denies police officers violated the constitutional rights of patrons when the Vice Unit and the now disbanded Red Dog Unit raided the gay Midtown bar the Atlanta Eagle two years ago. The denial comes in the form of a response to the second lawsuit filed over the botched raid bar on Sept. 10, 2009.
"City defendants assert that they took no action to deprive plaintiff's of any right, privilege, freedom or immunity secured by the Constitution" and the laws of Georgia and Atlanta, reads the response filed in U.S. District Court on Thursday, Oct. 6 — the day before Atlanta Pride kicks off.
The city's answer also states, "Insofar as Plaintiffs have been affected by the conduct of City Defendants, their actions were reasonable, proper, and necessary" and that the plaintiff's allegations "do not establish a constitutional violation."
While the second lawsuit by the 10 men who were in the bar the night it was raided was filed in Fulton County Superior Court, the city filed a motion to remove the lawsuit from that court and have it moved to federal court where the response was filed.
"I'm stunned" by the response, said attorney Dan Grossman, who is representing the 10 Eagle plaintiffs along with Gerry Weber. Grossman was the lead attorney in the first Eagle lawsuit that resulted in the city settling with 28 plaintiffs in December 2010 for more than $1 million.
Grossman said he is "stunned" because two in-depth investigations — one by the APD's Office of Professional Standards as well as an independent investigation by former U.S. Attorney Joe Whitley of the law firm Greenberg Traurig — showed that officers violated the constitutional rights of the patrons who were searched and detained in the first lawsuit.
And while the first settlement signed by U.S. District Judge Timothy Batten states, "Plaintiffs [were] unlawfully searched, detained, and/or arrested on September 10-11, 2009, at the Atlanta Eagle in Atlanta, Georgia, and that none of the Plaintiffs [were] personally suspected of any criminal activity," Batten did add, "This finding has no preclusive effect as to any other person or entity not a party to this litigation." Read Judge Batten's ruling in the original lawsuit here.
Mayor Kasim Reed, a defendant in the second Eagle lawsuit, said in July after the two investigations were released that he was "shocked" by their findings.
"My reaction [to the reports] is that this is terrible and I'm going to take whatever steps necessary to make sure this never happens in the city of Atlanta again," Reed said. ...
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