The Atlanta City Council will issue subpoenas to force 18 police officers to answer questions from the Citizen Review Board about a raid last September at a gay bar where patrons said they were verbally abused and forced to lie face down on the floor, some for more than an hour.
The Committee on Council's unanimous vote came after more than an hour of testimony, questions and debate Monday on the board's request to increase the pressure on Atlanta police officers who have appeared before the board but refused to answer questions. The union and officers say they are not shielded from criminal charges based on testimony before the board as they are when they answer questions in an APD internal investigation.
There is no criminal investigation pending, though four Atlanta Eagle employees are charged with violating city ordinances. A civil case was filed in federal court against the officers and the city, however.
“Even with a subpoena, I’m not sure the person has to speak,” council member Cleta Winslow said moments before the vote.
A lawyer for the Police Benevolent Association said it would be up to each officer to hire an attorney if he decided to fight the subpoena. If they do not respond to the subpoena, officers could be fined $1,000 each or sentenced to six months in jail, according to Cristina Beamud, the board's executive director.
“I’m disappointed that after six months we’re still here,” said Councilman Alex Wan, whose district includes the bar on Ponce de Leon Avenue. “I hope that at some point we’re going to get this resolved and closed out.”
Complete Story at Atlanta-Journal Constitution