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Section One
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Outrage in Fort Worth - City prosecutes victims of police abuse

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

City prosecutors in Fort Worth, Texas, announced on February 24 that they would press charges against two patrons of the Rainbow Lounge Gay bar who were injured in a police raid last June.

Chad Gibson suffered a severe brain injury while in police custody that kept him hospitalized for a week. Officers said he fell and hit his head while handcuffed. He said he was injured when officers slammed him against a wall inside the bar.

Gibson is being charged with "public intoxication" and "assaulting a state agent."

George Armstrong suffered severe bruising and muscle strain while being arrested. He is charged with "public intoxication."

Adam Seidel, the attorney for both men, said his clients are not willing to accept a plea bargain and asked that a date be set for the trial.

He declined to state categorically if prosecutors offered a deal, but said he was surprised they did not drop the charges entirely.

"The city's message has been, 'Let's learn from this and move forward and get past it,'" Seidel said. "That doesn't seem to be consistent with prosecuting these two victims."

City prosecutor Saleemah Jones declined to comment.

The June 28 raid on the Rainbow Lounge - ironically, 40 years almost to the minute after the raid on the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village - drew immediate protests from Gay activists and led to internal investigations by Fort Worth police and the Texas Alcohol Beverage Commission (TABC).

TABC ultimately fired three agents for multiple violations.

Fort Worth police chief Jeff Halstead apologized repeatedly to the LGBT community, acknowledged his officers were disrespectful to bar patrons and overly aggressive, and that they raided the bar without probable cause.

Three officers, including veteran Sgt. Richard Morris who led the operation, received short suspensions. Police investigations found that officers did not use excessive force, however.

Gibson's "assault" charge comes from police allegations that he "groped" the arresting officer, former TABC Agent Chris Aller. Gibson denies the charge, but Aller told reporters that he stands by his account of the incident.

Aller was fired by TABC for failing to report that he used force in the Rainbow Lounge raid, participating in the raid without a supervisor's approval, disrupting a lawful business, and wearing riot gear rather than a street uniform.

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