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Monday, July 11, 2011

6 Atlanta officers fired over Atlanta Eagle raid

Six Atlanta police officers were fired Friday for lying about what happened on the night of the 2009 raid on a Midtown gay bar, APD spokesman Carlos Campos said.
Nine other officers were also disciplined and three have hearings next week.
The actions come almost 10 days after the release of 343-page report detailing how 16 officers lied or destroyed evidence when asked about the raid at the Atlanta Eagle bar. The report said 10 of them lied, which usually leads to a termination because those officers can not longer testify.
“Honesty goes to the very heart of a police officer’s credibility,” Chief George Turner said. “The public must be able to trust its police officers and expects them to tell the truth at all times. Failure to be truthful has serious consequences at the Atlanta Police Department. I hope my actions today serve as a reminder to those men and women on the force that dishonesty simply will not be tolerated.”
On Sept. 10, 2009, 24 Atlanta police officers from the vice unit and the now-disbanded Red Dog team stormed into the bar, ordering everyone to the floor and using anti-gay slurs.
The fallout from the raid has dogged the department since, but APD took no action until the report was released last week, a day after the deadline set by a federal judge.
Police said they went to the bar because of reports of men engaging in sex while others watched. The charges against the eight people arrested that night were soon dropped or dismissed.
A federal lawsuit was filed and taxpayers had to pay the men more than $1 million to settle it.
The city released a report last week that was based on a three-month investigation that found many officers lied, knowingly violated the constitutional rights of those at the bar, destroyed evidence, and tried to cover up what they had done.
“Any time an officer’s credibility is at issue ... that can be raised in court,” said Christine Koehler, a past president of the Georgia Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.
Now cases based on the officers' testimony may have to be revisited.
At least two of the officers cited for lying -- James Menzoian and Brandon Jackson -- had been accused of lying another time. A federal judge said the two were "less than candid" in an October 2009  drug case. Federal prosecutors told APD they would never use them again in a federal prosecution. They previously had been fired.
A third officer also accused of lying was already on administrative leave when the report was issued on June 28; Bennie Bridges was charged in Cobb County in February with driving under the influence of alcohol and marijuana.
The officers who were dismissed are: Bridges, Lt. Tony Crawford, Sgt. Willie Adams, Sgt. John Brock, Officer Jeremy Edwards and Officer Cayenne Mayes.
The following officers were suspended for various lengths of time: Sgt. Kelley Collier (20 days), Inv. Timothy McClain (four days), Officer Robert C. Godwin (two days), Officer Vincent Marcano (two days), and Officer Marlon Noble (two days).
Four officers received written reprimands, and three have disciplinary hearings next week.

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