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Atlanta Eagle Raid: Greenberg Traurig Investigation

Atlanta Eagle Raid: Greenberg Traurig Investigation

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Published by The GA Voice

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Published by: The GA Voice on Jun 29, 2011
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05/24/2012

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Vice Unit approximately 8 years
APD since December 17, 1983
Photo Array ID No. 4130

Investigator McClain was present at both the May 21, 2009 and the June 11, 2009

undercover details that occurred at the Atlanta Eagle.1355

On May 21, 2009, McClain admits

arriving late at the bar because he was apprehensive and uncomfortable about entering because

the Eagle was a gay bar.1356

McClain then walked around and saw the different rooms in the bar

as well as the different patrons in each room.1357

McClain believes he had one drink that night

205

and also bought a patron a drink.1358

He recalls seeing dancers exposing themselves1359

and that

the dancers were receiving tips.1360

McClain learned from a patron that later in the night, the

Back Rooms of the Eagle would get “busy,” seemingly indicating that sexual activity would

occur.1361

Although McClain visited the Back Rooms, it was too dark for him to see

anything.1362

When the rest of the Vice Unit went to observe sexual acts in the back, McClain stayed at

the bar because he didn’t want to witness the activities.1363

Although the officers did not intend

to make any arrests that night,1364

McClain became nervous at the length of time the officers

were in the Back Room and thought that arrests were being made so he proceeded to the Back

Rooms and he saw the officers exiting.1365

Regarding the June 11, 2009 operation, McClain states that he entered the Eagle in the

same manner he did on the previous occasion.1366

McClain witnessed dancers on top of the

bar.1367

McClain ordered a Smirnoff Ice and also purchased two drinks for patrons.1368

Aside

from the dancers, McClain did not witness any other illegal activity that night.1369

On the night of the Raid, although McClain stayed in the Main Bar where he was

assigned, he occasionally got up and walked around.1370

McClain recalls purchasing an alcoholic

beverage, but states that he would only take a sip of it and then would go to the bathroom and

pour some out so that it appeared he was drinking more than he actually was.1371

McClain again

recalls seeing dancers on the bar and states that one of the dancers placed his penis on a patron’s

head and received a tip from the patron.1372

McClain also recalls additional dancers at the other

end of the bar and that a patron was grabbing a dancer’s genitals and buttocks.1373

McClain

reported the aforementioned events to Bridges after the Raid, and provided Bridges with a

description of both the dancers and patrons involved in the aforementioned acts.1374

206

During Red Dog’s entry, McClain identified himself as an officer by taking his badge out

from underneath his shirt.1375

However, he claims that he did not verbally identify himself as an

officer because no one was in his general vicinity when Red Dog entered.1376

While securing the area, the Red Dog officers moved patrons to the Center Bar area and

then ordered them to the floor.1377

McClain approximates that thirty individuals were ordered to

the floor in the Main Bar area.1378

McClain overheard complaints that individuals were being

stepped on.1379

McClain states that although some individuals were hesitant to get on the floor,

no officer used physical force to place anyone on the ground.1380

McClain claims that he did not frisk anyone nor did he reach into any pockets.1381

He

also denies handling any IDs.1382

As IDs were processed, patrons began to leave and as the

crowd dwindled, patrons began to sit on the floor rather than lie on it.1383

Search and Seizure (.3020)

McClain’s participation in the wholesale detention of all the patrons violated

APD.SOP.3020 ¶ 4.3.3(3) because the officers did not have “a particularized and objective basis

for suspecting that the particular person detained [was or is involved in] criminal activity.”1384

While suspects against whom Vice had a particularized and objective basis for suspecting

criminal activity could have been identified and detained, the remaining patrons should have

been released immediately. Instead, all of the Eagle’s patrons were detained until their licenses

were checked GCIC for outstanding warrants.

Use of Firearms (4.6.09)

After a review of all accessible and relevant information, the evidence DOES NOT

sufficiently support a finding that McClain violated the above-referenced Standard Operating

Procedure.

207

Maltreatment or Unnecessary Force (4.2.50)

After a review of all accessible and relevant information, the evidence DOES NOT

sufficiently support a finding that McClain violated the above-referenced Standard Operating

Procedure.

Courtesy (4.2.02)

After a review of all accessible and relevant information, the evidence DOES NOT

sufficiently support a finding that McClain violated the above-referenced Standard Operating

Procedure.

Discrimination (4.2.12)

After a review of all accessible and relevant information, the evidence DOES NOT

sufficiently support a finding that McClain violated the above-referenced Standard Operating

Procedure.

Discriminatory References (4.2.13)

After a review of all accessible and relevant information, the evidence DOES NOT

sufficiently support a finding that McClain violated the above-referenced Standard Operating

Procedure.

Conformance to Directives (4.2.33)

After a review of all accessible and relevant information, the evidence DOES NOT

sufficiently support a finding that McClain violated the above-referenced Standard Operating

Procedure.

Abuse of Authority (4.2.49)

After a review of all accessible and relevant information, the evidence DOES NOT

sufficiently support a finding that McClain violated the above-referenced Standard Operating

Procedure.

208

Obey the Law (4.1.05)

A. Warrantless Seizures - Terry Stop

Officer McClain wrongfully detained the patrons. During the Raid, Vice officers kept the

patrons on the floor even after the Eagle’s owners and employees were identified and isolated.

The wholesale detentions of all the patrons were not valid under Terry because the officers did

not have “specific and articulable facts which, taken together with rational inferences from those

facts, reasonably warrant [the detention].”1385

Patrons against whom the officers had no

particularized and objective basis for suspecting criminal activity should have been released

immediately rather than detained. The other patrons against whom the officers had

particularized and objective bases for suspecting illegal sex acts should have been released

immediately after the officers determined they could not make cases against them in the

municipal courts of the City of Atlanta. Instead, all patrons were detained illegally for an

inordinate period of time.

Disregarding whether running a license for criminal history constitutes an illegal search

under the Fourth Amendment, subjecting all patrons to ID scans led to improper detentions.

Requesting ID is proper during a valid Terry detention. In this instance, however, the wholesale

Terry detentions were not valid because the officers did not have any specific and articulable

facts that supported a reasonable suspicion that all patrons had committed criminal offenses. By

taking and scanning licenses, patrons not suspected of any wrongdoing were detained illegally.

Indeed, doing so prolonged the detentions, making it virtually indisputable that the detentions

violated recognized law.

209

B. Warrantless Seizures - Arrest

Further, the prolonged Terry detentions may have led to improper, constructive

arrests.1386

A Terry detention must last only as long as necessary to effectuate the purpose of the

stop, i.e., to ascertain the patron’s involvement in any illicit activities.1387

Once it was

determined that the patrons had not performed any illegal sex acts or the officers were unable to

identify any patron believed to have engaged in illegal sex acts, they should have been released.

Failure to let the patrons leave, particularly patrons not suspected of wrongdoing, after isolating

the Eagle’s owners and employees, and holding their IDs to be scanned for warrants1388

may

have led to unlawful, constructive arrests.

C. False Imprisonment

Investigator McClain falsely imprisoned the patrons when they were detained without

reasonable suspicion in violation of Terry and were without probable cause. The patrons were

restrained by the Vice officers and were not free to move or leave the Eagle until their licenses

were scanned and they were informed by the officers that they were free to go. The false

imprisonment lasted until each patron was instructed to leave.

Truthfulness (4.1.03)

After a review of all accessible and relevant information, the evidence DOES NOT

sufficiently support a finding that McClain violated the above-referenced Standard Operating

Procedure.

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