Set aside Baton Bob's bad behavior – misogynistic, racist warts and all – and consider that he was wronged by Atlanta police. Now, the ranty, whistle-blowing drag diva is getting $20,000 for his troubles.
On Tuesday, an Atlanta City Council committee approved a $20,000 settlement for Baton Bob, whose legal name is Bob Jamerson, to settle a federal lawsuit over his June 2013 arrest. In the lawsuit, which was filed in February, Baton Bob alleged that his arrest outside Colony Square violated his constitutional and legal rights and that officers used excessive force during the incident.
Baton Bob argued in the lawsuit that "irrational anti-LGBT bias and discrimination" within the police department contributed to the "wrongful arrest." The lawsuit cites the police raid of the Eagle in 2009 to support its claim that police are anti-gay and his quite messy and quite vocal arrest was a symptom of that.
The lawsuit named the City of Atlanta; its police department; Atlanta police Officer H.J. Davis, the officer that arrested him, Lt. Jeffrey Cantin and an unnamed officer; and the Midtown Alliance as defendants.
The lawsuit alleged that Cantin instructed Baton Bob to allow Davis to post a "positive" message about Atlanta police on Baton Bob's Facebook page to address media inquiries about his arrest. In return, the lawsuit said Cantin promised that Baton Bob would be released on a signature bond. The lawsuit said that after an internal police investigation, Cantin was suspended for five days and Davis for one. But Davis quit after the internal affairs report was issued in December 2013, according to the lawsuit.
In December 2014, charges against Baton Bob were dismissed, according to the lawsuit.
In March, the city slapped back and said it would "vigorously defend" itself. By this week, the city changed its tune – offering $20,000 to Baton Bob to make the lawsuit go away. It's not the first time the city has initially fought a lawsuit over police misconduct or HIV issues only to later settle.
The full City Council is expected to give the final OK to the lawsuit settlement in the coming weeks.