Three of the gay men arrested during the police raid of the Atlanta Eagle have been found not guilty. The judge then threw out the charges against the other five defendants when detectives could not identify them.
Municipal Judge Crystal Gaines said city police failed to produce evidence proving that men danced naked without permits or that the bar operators were running an unlicensed adult establishment. The decision comes as defendants and others involved with the Ponce de Leon Avenue bar are countering with a lawsuit in federal court against the city and Atlanta police officers. “We always thought from the beginning that we were charged for no reason,” bar co-owner Richard Ramey, who was not a defendant, said after the decision. “They had no right to be there,” he said of the police. The case stems from a Sept. 10 raid. Late that night, a swarm of officers detained and searched about five dozen Eagle customers, making some lie handcuffed and face down on the club’s floor. Some customers said they were not allowed to move for an hour and that they endured anti-gay slurs from the officers.
The Atlanta City Council has issued subpoenas to 18 police officers demanding their testimony about the raid. Only one officer has complied so far. The arrested customers and employees of the Eagle are suing the city and the police department, charging them with constitutional violations.