Alex Blaze

Officers Were Drunk During Eagle Bar Raid

Filed By Alex Blaze | February 16, 2011 5:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics
Tags: Atlanta, Georgia, police, raid, The Eagle

A year and a half ago a gay bar was raided in Atlanta, Georgia. A few license violations atlanta_eagle_cropped.jpgwere turned up after patrons were forced to lie on the ground for several hours while epithets were uttered by officers. When nothing really illegal was found, the patrons' cell phones were confiscated and background checks were run on them to try to find some justification for the raid.

The city settled with the patrons for $1 million in December. I was surprised, since usually the city defends police to the bitter end, especially when minorities are the ones complaining about ill-treatment. Now we know why: some of the officers were drunk on the job:

Three undercover officers were already in the Atlanta Eagle bar before the Sept. 10, 2009, raid started. At least two of them were drinking heavily, according to the bartender and the receipts they filed for the costs of their drinks.

According to information gathered in the now-settled lawsuit, officer Bennie Bridges spent $60 of APD funds on May 21, 2009, and another $50 the night of the raid on Sept. 10, 2009. A second officer working undercover that evening, Jared Watkins, claimed $60 for drinks the night of the raid. The third officer inside the Eagle bar before the raid claimed he spent $10.

According to records for those who were in the bar undercover on May 21, 2009, five officers, one of them a woman, each claimed they spent $5. Three others reported spending $10, $20 and $29. That was the night Bridges, the lead investigator, spent $60, according to information gathered to settle a federal lawsuit for $1.025 million and legal costs.

And they would have gotten away with it if they didn't try to get reimbursed for the booze money.

Of course, these officers won't be appearing in any "dumb criminals" show any time soon, even though that's just what they are (if they were undercover and trying to fit in, they could have just ordered a coke). But this is clearly why the police shouldn't be implicitly trusted when someone accuses them of wrong-doing.

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Shirley Temples don't come cheap, people!