Tututastic drag street performer Baton Bob is back, re-filing his federal lawsuit against Atlanta police for arresting him in a wedding dress and trying to turn it into a damning indictment of the law enforcement agency.
Attorneys for Baton Bob, known legally as Bob Jamerson, promised when they pulled the lawsuit in October that it would be back. They made good on Feb. 27, filing a 26-page complaint alleging the June 2013 arrest violated his constitutional and legal rights and that officers used excessive force during the incident.
Baton Bob argues in the lawsuit that “irrational anti-LGBT bias and discrimination” within the police department contributed to the “wrongful arrest.” The lawsuit, like the one filed in June 2014, 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.
“Defendants not only arrested Plaintiff, but they later compelled him to make public statements, while in custody, to the effect that defendants were not culpable for their wrongful acts, in an attempt to control the public outrage over his arrest,” according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit names 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 alleges 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 says Cantin promised that Baton Bob would be released on a signature bond. The lawsuit says 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.
“Authorities within the City of Atlanta and Atlanta Police Department are aware that Plaintiff's arrest and coerced 'statement' were illegal. They have taken no public action to clear Plaintiff of the illegal confession of unlawful charges,” the lawsuit states.
Joshua Brownlee, an attorney for Baton Bob, attempted to broaden the impact of the lawsuit beyond Baton Bob's arrest.
“You can’t back down when people are disrespecting the rights of people and their communities,” Brownlee told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “This is not just about Baton Bob. It’s about the whole LGBT community as a whole.”
The lawsuit seeks a jury trial and damages for physical pain and injury, mental anguish and emotional distress. It also asks for an order that Atlanta police are prohibited “from continued discrimination against LGBT individuals.”
Atlanta police had not seen the lawsuit on Monday and declined comment to the AJC.