Judge delays trial for Eagle 8 defendants

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The trial of the eight men arrested during the Atlanta Police Department’s Sept. 10 raid of the gay bar has been postponed, another delay in the legal case that has entered its fifth month.

The trial, scheduled to open Feb. 4, has been postponed and not yet rescheduled, according to Alan Begner, the attorney representing the eight men.

imageJudge Crystal Gaines, the municipal court judge presiding over the case, could not be immediately reached Friday. Her office initiated the postponement on Thursday, Begner says. Solicitor Raines Carter (bottom photo), whose office is prosecuting the case against the Eagle 8, also could not be immediately reached for comment.

Begner says he expects a conference call with Gaines and Carter sometime next week to discuss the case.

The Eagle 8 were arraigned Nov. 3. Eagle co-owner Robert Kelley (top photo), bartender Chris Lopez, manager David Shepherd and doorman Ernest Buehl face business license charges. Dancers Leandro Apud, Anitonio Benitez, Thdareius Johnson and Robert Kline are charged with providing adult entertainment without a license.

The Sept. 10 raid ignited a firestorm of controversy over police tactics and prompted several elected officials and political candidates to question the raid and call for an investigation. It resulted in a public forum with top commanders of the police department, who defended the raid, and three protests. The action also prompted a federal lawsuit, which was filed in late November.

Earlier this month, Mayor Kasim Reed pledged to take “appropriate action” if an ongoing investigation and lawsuit shows that the police department acted inappropriately during the raid. The comments came on Reed’s second day in office as he and Acting Police Chief George Turner announced sweeping staffing changes at the Atlanta Police Department.

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