Report Cites Violations In Gay Bar Raid

Two Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission agents who took part in a June police raid on a gay bar failed to report they used force when arresting a patron or that he suffered a serious head injury, according to a report released Thursday.

Agent Christopher Aller and agent trainee Jason Chapman also are accused of participating in the June 28 raid without their supervisor's approval, disrupting the business during the raid and wearing improper attire in the beverage commission report obtained by The Associated Press under the Texas Open Records Act.

The investigation also found that one of the agents' supervisors, Sgt. Terry Parsons, failed to ensure the agents submitted a report on using force during the arrest, did not take appropriate action after learning they didn't wear proper attire during the raid and did not notifying supervisors multiple arrests had been made that night, the report states.

Aller and Chapman have been placed on desk duty pending the outcome of the investigation, and Parsons decided to retire. All three could face disciplinary action ranging from a verbal warning to job termination for numerous policy violations, but no decision has been made on any penalties, agency spokeswoman Carolyn Beck said.

Aller and Chapman accompanied six Fort Worth police officers on a raid of the just opened Rainbow Lounge in what police initially billed as a routine liquor license inspection for a new business. The raid led to several arrests and one patron, Chad Gibson, was hospitalized with a severe head injury he suffered while in the agents' custody, the agency and police have said.

Gay rights groups have protested the raid and demanded independent investigations, saying the bar was targeted because it catered to a gay clientele. Police have denied the accusation. The raid came on the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall riots, the days of unrest that followed a police raid on a New York gay bar.

Police previously said Gibson was intoxicated and had fallen down on his own during his arrest. But in the report, Aller and Chapman said that they were struggling to handcuff Gibson, so they and an officer pinned him against a wall, kicked one of his legs out, tried a pressure-point technique on his face and moved him to the ground.

According to the report, Chapman said that during the commotion he landed on Gibson's legs but got up and handcuffed him and led him from the club. Chapman said he saw no blood on the floor or injury to Gibson and that Gibson didn't complain of being hurt, but that Gibson began vomiting and fell on his face on the pavement after being told he would be charged with public intoxication and assault.

Chapman said emergency medical technicians were called, and that while monitoring Gibson he noticed a "road rash-like injury" on his cheek and a "goose egg" and scrape above his right eye, the report said.

Gibson was released from the hospital after a week, but has said he has a blood clot behind his right eye.

In the report, Chapman -- a trainee since April -- acknowledged some violations but said, "Chris and I -- we conducted ourselves in a professional manner. We had some hiccups on policy. There's no two ways about that and that's my responsibility."

Aller, who has been with the agency since 2004, also acknowledged some policy violations but said he didn't violate anybody's constitutional rights.

"Nobody was abused, violated; we weren't there because of their sexual orientation. I'm very apathetic. I could care less," Aller said, according to the report. He added that the inspection "had nothing to do with it being a gay bar."

When questioned about following up with the agents and his other duties after the raid, Parsons said, "I accept responsibility. I made a mistake and I know it's gonna cost me," the report states.

An upcoming report will address whether the agents' use of force was appropriate during the raid, Beck said.

Fort Worth police are conducting their own investigation. Chief Jeff Halstead said Thursday that the findings would not be released in mid-August, as first thought, because he wants to make sure the report is thorough and complete.

See the TABC policies and procedures report here.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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