Man says he suffered bruising, muscle strain when officer tackled him
Fort Worth Police Chief Jeffrey Halstead said Tuesday night, June 30, that the director of the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission would shortly be releasing a statement acknowledging that Chad Gibson incurred a head injury that left him hospitalized while in TABC custody.
TABC spokeswoman Carolyn Beck said Wednesday morning, July 1, that Halstead had been reading from a draft copy of a statement, and that the final version of the statement was not ready for release.
But even though the final version of the TABC statement may clear the Fort Worth P.D. of any involvement in Gibson’s injury, it doesn’t mean that Halstead’s department is in the clear regarding the arrests that occurred shortly after 1 a.m. Sunday, June 28 at the Rainbow Lounge.
George Armstrong said this week that he, too, was injured in the incident, although not nearly as severely as Gibson.
"I was one of the ones that was beat up at the Rainbow Lounge," Armstrong said in a telephone interview on Tuesday afternoon.
Armstrong said he had gotten to the bar at about 12:45 a.m. and had only been there about 30 minutes when Fort Worth officers and TABC agents entered the bar and began arresting patrons.
"I looked up and there was this swarm of police coming in. They just kind of rushed in," Armstrong said.
"I saw them making their way through the crowd, and I just kind of smiled at one of the officers and flashed him a ‘peace’ sign," he added. "The next thing I know, he was coming at me. He tackled me to the ground, twisted my arms up really hard behind my back. I just kept saying, ‘What is wrong? Why are you doing this? Why are you touching me?’"
Armstrong said the officer told him he was being arrested for public intoxication, then took him outside and had him sit on the sidewalk until he was placed in the nearby van and taken to the police station. Officers outside, he said, "apparently found it really humorous. There was a lot of smirking and smiling going on."
Armstrong said he was detained at the police station until about noon. After appearing before a judge, where he pleaded not guilty to the public intoxication charge, he was released. He said he walked back to the Rainbow Lounge to retrieve his car — and then drove himself directly to the emergency room at Baylor All-Saints Hospital.
Doctors there diagnosed him with severe bruising and muscle strain in his shoulder and back, he said.
"When the guy tackled me in the bar, I landed on my shoulder. My shoulder and back took all the force of the fall. I was lucky that I didn’t hit my head like [Gibson] did. But I was hurt. I was in a lot of pain," Armstrong said. "I told them at the police station that I was really hurt, but they just ignored me."
Armstrong also said police charged him with public intoxication, even though he was not drunk and they did no field sobriety tests.
"They didn’t ask me for my ID in the bar, they just pulled it out of my pocket later, outside. They never asked me to take a Breathalyzer, which I would have been happy to do, and they didn’t ask me to walk a straight line or stand on one leg or any of those things. They just said, ‘You’re intoxicated,’ and they took me to jail."
Armstrong said that his arrest happened so quickly he didn’t realize what was happening until he was handcuffed and on his way to the police station. "I was attacked. I didn’t do anything. I didn’t touch anybody. They just attacked me," he said. "I always thought a person was innocent until proven guilty. But that sure doesn’t seem to be the case here."
Fort Worth police spokesman R.J. "Pedro" Criado said Tuesday evening that Armstrong and anyone else who believes they were mistreated or who saw what happened at the Rainbow Lounge on Sunday morning should contact the department to give their account. The contact person for the department’s investigation is Capt. Garcia, who can be reached by phone at 817-392-4270.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition July 3, 2009.