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Texas admits agents acted improperly in Fort Worth raid
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Texas admits agents acted improperly in Fort Worth raid

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

The Texas Alcoholic Beverages Commission (TABC) released its internal investigation of its June 28 raid on the Rainbow Lounge on Thursday. According to the report, two TABC agents and their immediate supervisor committed 19 separate violations of state policy in connection with the raid on the Fort Worth Gay bar.

"There were so many violations that one could readily assert that they had no business walking through the door," Texas state Rep. Lon Burnam (D-Fort Worth) told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

Perhaps the most shocking findings were that TABC agents participated in the joint raid with Fort Worth police on their own initiative, without authorization from supervisors. The agents were also accused of failing to report injuries to bar patron Chad Gibson while he was in their custody.

Gibson was hospitalized for more than a week with severe brain injuries. He is now recovering, but his long-term prognosis remains unclear, according to his doctors.

The TABC report accuses Agent Christopher Aller of eight violations, Agent Trainee Jason Chapman of seven violations, and their immediate supervisor Sgt. Terry Parsons of four violations.

Both Aller and Chapman were accused of failing to report injuries to Gibson and failing to report using force to detain patrons at the Rainbow Lounge. Parsons was accused of failing to tell his superiors of the multiple arrests.

Charges that TABC agents used excessive force in arresting bar patrons were not addressed in the report issued on Thursday. TABC is conducting a separate "use of force" investigation, but it is not yet complete.

Disciplinary action against the three TABC employees is pending their written response to the findings. Under state rules, they must file a response within five working days. Sgt. Parsons announced his retirement shortly after details of the raid became public. Aller and Chapman remain on administrative leave.

The Fort Worth Police Department is also conducting two separate internal investigations into the conduct of its officers involved in the raid.

"The Fort Worth Police Department understands that patrons of the Rainbow Lounge and the community expect a report in August," Fort Worth Police Chief Jeffrey Halstead said after the TABC report was released. "Therefore, we have asked for time on the August 18 pre-council agenda to provide City Council, patrons of Rainbow Lounge and the community a progress report of our investigation."

The Fort Worth City Council has asked the federal Justice Department to conduct an independent investigation of the incident.

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