Cops Report: No Excessive Force in Rainbow Lounge Raid

Results of long-awaited report will be announced on Thursday

Fort Worth police planned to announce on Thursday that an internal investigation has cleared officers of excessive force in the controversial raid of a gay bar this summer, and no officers will be fired, said two city leaders briefed on the matter.

The long-awaited 1,000-page report is expected to fault officers for not writing a timely report on the June 28 raid of the Rainbow Lounge, but conclude officers did not use excessive force or violate other operational policies.

Officers are supposed to write reports by the end of every shift, but in this case the officer waited until the next day – after gay groups had launched protests, police said.

Chief Jeffrey Halstead was also set to announce Thursday if any of the officers will be disciplined.

Halstead has told city officials none of the officers will be fired but at least one may receive written reprimands or short suspensions, the officials said.

A leader of one of the most vocal gay groups protesting the raid said a written reprimand or short suspension would be "a slap on the wrist."

"We're not happy with how the police department seems to be positioning itself," said Blake Wilkinson of Queer Liberaction. "We think (the officers) should be fired, just as the TABC agents were fired."

The chief was working with city attorneys Wednesday to release at least a partial version of the review, said police spokesman Lt. Paul Henderson. He said releasing the full report is prohibited by the Texas government code, which protects officers from the public release of such internal reports, he said.

City council member Kathleen Hicks, whose district includes the Rainbow Lounge, said she was under the impression the entire report would be released publicly.

The raid drew national attention when six officers and two agents from the Texas Alcohol Beverage Commission went into the bar about 1 a.m. and arrested several patrons for being intoxicated in public.

One customer, Chad Gibson, received a serious head injury and was hospitalized for a week.

Investigators concluded he was extremely drunk and hit his head when he fell outside while vomiting, not in an initial scuffle with officers inside the bar.

Gay groups immediately criticized the timing of the raid, which came on the 40th anniversary of a police raid at the Stonewall Inn in New York City, which led to yearly parades on that day and sparked the modern gay rights movement.

The officers involved in the Fort Worth raid had no idea about the significance of the day in the gay community and did not target the bar because it catered to gay clientele, police have said. They also made arrests in two Latino bars earlier that night.

The uproar led police to change the department’s policy on bar inspections, requiring officers to get supervisor approval and document a history of problems. The Rainbow Lounge was celebrating its grand opening.

The department also appointed an officer to serve as a liaison to the gay community. A separate diversity task force made numerous recommendations to the city council, including extending insurance benefits to same-sex partners of city employees.

The only openly gay member of the Fort Worth council, Joel Burns, said he would reserve his comments until after the chief's announcement.

The TABC on Thursday also planned to announce its findings on whether its two agents used excessive force. The agents were fired for violating various agency policies.

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