TABC agents violated policies during Rainbow Lounge, report says

Crime, Law and JusticeLon BurnamJustice SystemPolitics

Two Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission agents could face disciplinary action after an internal investigation revealed they violated numerous policies during a raid of the Rainbow Lounge, officials said.

Agent Christopher Aller and agent-trainee Jason Chapman violated policies on conduct, procedure and dress during a controversial inspection of the gay bar on June 28.

In the 32-page document released today, the agents detail their accounts of the bar inspection, including how 26-year-old Chad Gibson was injured. The agents also assert they were only assisting Fort Worth police with the bar inspections.

All three admitted to making mistakes that night.

"I violated some policy issues," Aller said. "I did not violate anybody's Constitutional rights. Nobody was abused, violated; we weren't there because of their sexual orientation."

State Rep. Lon Burnam D-Fort Worth said the conduct of Aller and Chapman was clearly unacceptable, and it should not be tolerated.

"They went Rambo," he said. "The bad decisions that were made before they walked in the door, set the stage for a bad situation."

Aller, who has been on the force for five years, was found to have violated eight policies. Chapman, who had worked with the agency for less than four months, violated seven.

Sgt. Terry Parsons, who supervises Aller and Chapman, was found to have also violated policies for failing to properly supervise them.

"I accept responsibility," he said. "I made a mistake and I know it's going to cost me."

Parsons has since retired.

Six people were arrested during the bar inspection at the Rainbow Lounge on June 28. Gibson, who was among those arrested, suffered a blood clot in his brain from the event.

The raid sparked both national and local controversy about why officers decided to raid the bar on the 40th anniversary of Stonewall raids in New York.

In the report, Aller said the bar was targeted because a man was seen drunk outside of the bar two days before the raid. He also said the owner told police that "his staff escorts intoxicated customers to their cars to ensure they get out safely."

Once inside the bar, Aller said he and Chapman assisted Fort Worth police during the inspection.

After helping a Fort Worth officer arrest a subject, Aller said Gibson slapped his genital area and then resisted arrest. Gibson was not injured during incident and was taken outside.

It was there, the agents said, that Gibson fell over while vomiting and injured his head.

Several bar patrons and Gibson have contended that his injury was caused when he was pushed to the ground inside the bar. He has denied ever inappropriately touching Aller.

A second TABC investigation is still pending on Gibson's injuries.

Gibson's attorney could not be reached for comment today.

Rainbow Lounge general manager Randy Norman said the report still contains some inaccuracies, but the report is a step in the right direction.

However, Norman said an independent investigation is need to get a clearer picture of what happen that night.

"I would hope for an external investigation on both the TABC and the Fort Worth Police Department," he said. "So we can make closure on this and heal the community."

Fort Worth city and state officials have asked for the U.S. Attorney to begin an external investigation into the incident.

Fort Worth police declined to comment specifically about TABC report. Their investigation is still on-going, and they plan to update the City Council and the public about their investigation on August 18, officials said.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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Crime, Law and JusticeLon BurnamJustice SystemPolitics