The Atlanta Police Department’s Red Dog Unit, which came under fire for its role in the botched raid of the Eagle, is under renewed scrutiny over allegations that three of its officers fondled two men during a traffic stop.
The two men told WSB that the incident took place last June as the three officers – two of whom took part in the Eagle raid three months later — pulled over their vehicle on Fulton Street. Brian Kidd (photo), the passenger, said the officers forced him to pull down his pants on the side of the road while his roommate, Shawn Venegas, also faced a visual body cavity search in which he was told to spread his buttocks. Kidd said the officers were searching for drugs, but none were found.
“They went to his bottom part. That’s as low as you can go. I don’t think anybody should be subjected to that kind of search,” Kidd said. “I had to look away because I couldn’t watch my friend be done like that.”
Venegas said he was so traumatized by the incident that he moved to another state.
“I feel molested, and I feel like I was raped,” Venegas told [WSB] over the phone.
Attorney Mark Bullman is representing the men, while Dan Grossman, lead attorney for men who sued the city over the Eagle raid, is co-counsel.
“I’ve heard many stories from citizens who were stripped in public by Red Dog,” Grossman said.
Atlanta police spokesperson Carlos Campos told WSB that the agency is investigating the matter.
“There is evidence to suggest that some of the officers’ actions during this traffic stop were inappropriate,” Campos said. “As a result, Chief Turner intends to move swiftly to discipline some of the officers with actions – up to, and including, dismissal.”
“The Atlanta Police Department expects its officers to be truthful at all times, to follow all policies and procedures and to follow all of the local, state and federal laws they are sworn to uphold. Failure to do so will not be tolerated,” Campos said.
But the agency’s track record in disciplining rogue officers involved in the Eagle raid is poor. Atlanta police – nearly 17 months after the raid – have yet to complete and publicly release an internal investigation into the raid. The city’s prosecution of the eight men arrested during the raid crumbled during trial, the Atlanta Citizen Review Board has repeatedly called for sanctions against officers in the raid, and the city inked a $1.025 million settlement to a lawsuit stemming from the incident. Yet police Chief George Turner has failed to take action against officers involved in the planning or execution of the raid.
Mayor Kasim Reed, who has apologized to the plaintiffs in the Eagle lawsuit, has also failed to follow through on his pledge to take “appropriate action” if allegations of wrongdoing during the raid or by the city in its aftermath were shown to be true.