Chief Apologizes for Gay Bar Raid

By Stacy Morrow
|  Wednesday, Aug 19, 2009  |  Updated 12:26 PM CDT
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Chief Apologizes for Gay Bar Raid

AP

In this July 1 photo, hundreds hold candles as they gathered at the Rainbow Lounge near south Fort Worth, Texas, in memory of Chad Gibson, who was allegedly injured by law enforcement officers during a joint inspection by Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission agents and Fort Worth police.

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Chief Apologizes for Gay Bar Raid

The Fort Worth police chief apologizes for the June raid at the Rainbow Lounge.
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The Fort Worth police chief apologized Tuesday for a June 28 raid at the Rainbow Lounge that left one man seriously injured and civil rights activists outraged.

The Fort Worth Police Department and the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission were accused of targeting the gay community and using excessive force in the raid.

Many activists expressed disappointment that the incident happened on the anniversary of Stonewall, the 1969 New York City police raid that sparked riots leading to the gay rights movement in the United States.

The agencies launched separate investigations into the Rainbow Lounge incident. Fort Worth Police Chief Jeff Halstead said Tuesday the department's investigation is still under way as he gave a preliminary briefing to the city council.  

"On today's progress report, I am apologizing for the actions and the reflection that this gave our community," said Halstead. "This resulted from flawed policy within the police department."

The apology comes almost two weeks after the TABC apologized because its investigation found three agents violated numerous policies in conducting the raid.

Two TABC agents and a supervisor, who has since resigned, could face disciplinary action ranging from a verbal warning to job termination, agency spokeswoman Carolyn Beck told the Associated Press.

Euless resident Chad Gibson, 26, said he suffered a hairline skull fracture and internal bleeding from excessive force used during his arrest at the bar. He was one of six people taken into custody and charged with public intoxication.

Halstead said the department is sorting through conflicting reports of what happened to Gibson, but acknowledged that one Fort Worth officer used a pressure point technique on Gibson's face as he assisted TABC agents in the arrest.  

Police had previously said Gibson was intoxicated and had fallen down on his own during the arrest, but the TABC report said two of its agents moved him to the ground as they struggled to handcuff him.

Halstead also said he has learned that the Fort Worth Police Department led the bar inspection -- not the TABC.  The department has temporarily suspended all operations with the TABC.

Halstead promised he is taking steps to ensure similar incidents do not happen again.

In addition to revising the current bar check policy, the department will provide employees with more training and is working on partnerships with the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community.

Halstead has also joined the City Manager's Diversity Task Force, which was created to facilitate conversation on issues affecting gay and lesbian residents.

The Texas Local Government Code requires the Fort Worth Police Department to have its investigation of the Rainbow Lounge incident completed by Dec. 28. If the excessive force allegation is sustained, officers could face disciplinary action ranging from written reprimand to termination.

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