Just in time for Pride: Yesterday, the City filed its response to a lawsuit recently filed by ten men who were present at the Atlanta Eagle the night it was improperly raided by the Atlanta Police Department. See, I say "improperly" because it's been established several times over — in a previous settlement, an outside investigation commissioned by the city, as well as an investigation report prepared by the APD itself — that officers involved in the raid did NOT follow procedure. And certain APD procedures that were followed were later deemed unconstitutional by a federal judge.
In its response to this most recent lawsuit, the City basically says that the raid was not improper. Here's the dumb-or-brilliant part: They've phrased it so they're not necessarily arguing that NO ONE'S rights were violated or that the police didn't act inappropriately toward SOME PEOPLE — just not these particular plaintiffs.
Here are some highlights from the response (just to clarify, "City Defendants" includes the officers who conducted the raid, several of whom have already been fired for their role in the raid and the subsequent coverup):
"City Defendants assert that they took no action to deprive Plaintiffs of any right, privilege, freedom or immunity secured by the Constitution and laws of the United States of America ..."
"Insofar as Plaintiffs have been affected by the conduct of City Defendants, their actions were reasonable, proper, and necessary..."
"If any Plaintiff was, in fact, detained, said detention was reasonable..."
"If any Plaintiff was, in fact, patted down, City Defendants were justified in their belief that their safety or the safety of others was in danger..."
"The Plaintiffs' allegations do not establish a constitutional violation…"
Attorney Dan Grossman told CL today that he expected the City would argue damages — yeah, we were wrong, but how much is that hour spent lying on a filthy barroom floor really worth? — but didn't expect they'd argue the raid itself was acceptable.
In an emailed statement he said, "These statements directly contradict the conclusions of the city's two formal investigation reports, which found widespread violations of the patrons' constitutional rights."
Grossman describes the argument as "frivolous," and says bringing it before a judge could expose the City to sanctions — and paying the plaintiff's legal fees.
UPDATE: City spokesperson Sonji Dade acknowledges that the city's answer to the new lawsuit may sound incongruous with the court settlements it has previously made, but says it reflects standard legal practice.
"There are plaintiffs named in this new suit that the city hasn't yet confirmed were present in the Eagle that night," she says. "The legal strategy at this point has to be to deny the allegations and go from there."
If that sounds to you like the city will eventually settle most of these cases, too, we'd agree.
Are you planning to inquire how the prosecution did such a poor and unsatisfactory job?
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