Atlanta police suspends Eagle raid investigator

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imageThe troubled, Jagermeister-downing Atlanta police investigator that led the botched raid of the Eagle has been suspended pending the outcome of charges stemming from his recent arrest for DUI and marijuana possession.

Chief George Turner met with Bridges on Wednesday, conducted a hearing and later suspended him without pay pending the outcome of the criminal case stemming from his Feb. 3 traffic stop in Cobb County.

The Atlanta police announced the disciplinary move a day after a report that said Bridges was among police officers who spent $210 in taxpayer funds knocking back shots at the Eagle during undercover operations and in the hours leading up to the infamous raid on Sept. 10, 2009.

Atlanta police refused to discuss Bridges’ suspension. He was placed on administrative leave with pay after the DUI arrest and the matter referred to the department’s internal affairs unit.

Bridges’ role in the Eagle case has helped to make public his troubled actions both in the raid and during his tenure with Atlanta police.

Bridges is one of scores of officers included in a damning report from the Atlanta Citizen Review Board calling for reprimands and suspensions for officers and supervisors involved in the Eagle raid. The recommendations were made on Jan. 20. Turner, who has yet to react to them, has until mid February to respond. But the ACRB has three times in past months called for punishments against officers in the Eagle raid and Turner hasn’t taken action. The police department’s internal investigation into the raid hasn’t been completed in the 17 months since the raid.

The discovery process in the federal lawsuit over the Eagle raid uncovered evidence that Bridges was among officers that deleted text messages from their cell phones relating to the raid after a federal judged ordered them to produce the phones for inspection.

image During the trial last March of the eight men arrested in the Eagle raid, Bridges testified that the Red Dog Unit was brought to the bar to “hold everyone” as part of the police investigation. “What [Bridges] really said is that they had already made the decision to hold everyone at the Eagle before they even left the precinct house, before they had any idea whether anyone was breaking the law or not,” Dan Grossman, the lead attorney in the Eagle lawsuit, said in March. “They didn’t care whether these guys were suspected of criminal activity. They decided to hold them before they even showed up. I can’t think of a clearer statement about how little they cared about probable cause.”

It was the testimony of Bridges and Sgt. John Brock during the March trial that undermined the city’s prosecution of the Eagle 8 and contributed to the case’s collapse. Bridges could not identify or misidentified several of the Eagle 8 defendants and said during the trial that he did not make nor hear other officers using anti-gay slurs, as patrons of the bar have alleged.

In June, the ACRB recommended Brock be suspended for three days and Bridges reprimanded for their role in the raid after the panel sustained a complaint from a manager at the Eagle. Turner hasn’t acted on those recommendations.

Bridges has had trouble with alcohol in the past. He testified during the Eagle 8 trial that he bought four drinks at the Eagle the night of the raid, but only sipped each one briefly before throwing them away. But he and Brock have face a litany of complaints filed against them over the years and Bridges has been suspended several times for incidents that included alcohol.


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