Chief takes aim at cops who lied in Eagle probe

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imageAtlanta Police Chief George Turner acted swiftly in the wake of two damning reports about the role of his agency in the botched raid of the Eagle: He put seven officers who lied during post-raid investigations on administrative duty and demoted the commander who oversaw it.

Turner’s actions, announced on Thursday, came less than two days after the agency released its long-awaited internal investigation into the Sept. 10, 2009 raid of the gay bar. Also late Tuesday, the city released an independent investigation into the raid by high-powered law firm Greenberg Traurig.

The investigations, part of the $1.025 settlement in a lawsuit filed by patrons and employees, were critical of the Atlanta Police Department and the City Law Department and said officers broke standard operating procedures for the law enforcement agency and lied to cover up their actions.

The internal investigation by Atlanta police sustained 42 violations of the police department’s operating procedures involving 26 officers. Some 10 officers were cited for lying about the raid in subsequent investigations, including the chief architects of the raid and undercover investigation leading up to it – Sgt. John Brock and Inv. Bennie Bridges.

On Thursday, Turner (photo) announced that he has placed seven of those officers on administrative duty pending the outcome of a disciplinary review. The administrative duty means they were stripped of their guns and badges and won’t work in a law enforcement capacity, the police department says.

Two others have been fired from the department as the result of wrong-doing unrelated to the Eagle raid. Bridges is currently suspended without pay over his arrest for marijuana possession and DUI.

“These are preliminary decisions,” Atlanta police spokesperson Carlos Campos says in an email. “Chief Turner continues to digest the findings contained in the OPS and Greenberg reports and will determine the appropriate final disciplinary action for each of the accused officers.”

Among those placed on administrative duty is Lt. Tony Crawford, a commander of the Vice Unit that oversaw the raid. He was criticized in the Eagle investigations for saying his presence wasn’t warranted and for not reviewing plans for the raid before it took place. Others placed on administrative duty: Brock, Sgt. Willie Adams and Officers Jeremy Edwards, Dimitri Jacques, Vicente Marcano and Cayenne Mayes.

The two officers who were involved in the Eagle raid but were fired for unrelated reasons are James Menzoian and Brandon Jackson.

Turner also demoted Major Debra Williams, the commander of the units over the Eagle raid, to lieutenant.

Turner had repeatedly rejected calls from the Atlanta Citizen Review Board and his own LGBT advisory board to punish officers in the raid, saying he’ll revisit those recommendations once the internal investigation is wrapped up.

The two reports on the raid also published previously unreported details of the investigation and what took place during the incident, including patrons who were injured, a lesbian cop who took part in the police action, how officers spent $170 in city funds on booze, and two charts the detail which officers violated what department policies.

The reports also include the anti-gay comments Brock and Edwards made during the post-raid investigations. Edwards offered this insight: “Seeing another man have sex with another man in the ass, I would classify that as very violent.”

Brock said this when questioned why he forced patrons in the bar to lay face down on the floor for nearly an hour: “There’s a risk factor involved when you’re dealing with people you don’t know anything about. S&M, that – that has a stigma of some sort of violence.”

He added: “In the past I have as a patrol officer handled calls where there are gay couples living in residence where one is mad at the other, and they slash clothes, furniture, anything they can do. They’re very violent.”

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