TABC agents fired over Fort Worth gay bar raid

Sun. August 30, 2009 12:00 AM by Carlos Santoscoy

Fort Worth, TX - An internal investigation into what went wrong during a June inspection on a gay bar in Fort Worth, Texas has resulted in three firings.

In a statement released Friday, the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) announced two agents and one supervisor have been fired and two additional supervisors have been disciplined.

The TABC said agent Christopher Aller and agent trainee Jason Chapman were fired Friday. Both men participated in the June 28 bar raid on the Rainbow Lounge that resulted in the arrests of six people for public intoxication and sent one man, Chad Gibson, to the hospital with a severe head injury. The agent's supervisor, Sergeant Terry Parsons, who had reportedly taken an early retirement, was also fired, effective September 2.

A 32-page report released earlier in the month found that Aller and Chapman failed to get approval for the inspection initiated by TABC agents, failed to report that Gibson was injured while in the agency's custody, and failed to report that force was used in his arrest.

Parsons failed to adequately supervise the agents and report their violations, the report said.

Lieutenant Gene Anderson, Parsons' direct supervisor, is being suspended without pay for three days and will remain on probation for six months. Captain Robert "Charlie" Cloud, who oversees the Dallas and Fort Worth TABC offices, has received a written reprimand for failing to adequately monitor supervisors and agents.

The actions were announced by TABC Chief of Field Operations Joel Moreno, who said he remained confident that management could regain the trust of the community.

"The first step is by working more closely with their employees, mentoring them and serving as positive role models by exemplifying the agency's four cornerstones: service, courtesy, integrity and accountability," Moreno said in a statement. "It is essential that every employee understands our core value: We do the right thing, not what we have the right to do."

Last month, TABC Administrator Alan Steen admitted procedures had been violated: "When you look at the whole totality of that particular night, nothing went right, nothing went right for anybody," Steen told gay weekly the Houston Voice. "We can't go back and fix it, but we can move forward and make sure that all of us learn lessons and do a better job."

Six Fort Worth Police Officers accompanied TABC agents in the gay bar raid. Earlier this month, Police Chief Jeff Halstead shifted from his initial icy position of "take a deep breath" to a public apology. However, he said no policies were violated by officers because the department's bar inspection policy did not include specific guidelines. Halstead promised a three tiered inspection policy would be in place by Sept. 1.

The raid sparked a loud outcry from the city's gay and lesbian community, which has called the raid police harassment. A July police report that suggested officers and agents turned violent because they faced sexually aggressive patrons – a claim eye-witnesses deny – exacerbated the situation.

Men and women "were reaching their hands out to touch officers, and moving their bodies in a sexually suggestive manner" as officers and agents inspected the club, the police report says. The report alleges that Rainbow Lounge patrons blew kisses, groped agents and simulated sex acts with police officers.

A separate TABC investigation on the use of force during the raid is expected in September.

Article provided in partnership with On Top Magazine