TABC report details 19 violations in raid

Posted on 06 Aug 2009 at 8:01pm
By John Wright News Editor

Disciplinary action pending against 3 employees after agency releases its 1st investigation into June 28 incident at Rainbow Lounge


Alan Steen

FORT WORTH — Two agents and a sergeant from the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission committed a total of 19 policy violations related to the June 28 raid on the Rainbow Lounge in Fort Worth, according to an internal report released by the agency Thursday, Aug. 6.

Disciplinary action against the three TABC employees is pending, although the two agents have been placed on desk duty and the sergeant has announced his intent to retire from the agency.

TABC is also conducting a separate investigation into the use of force by the two agents during the highly controversial raid, which left Rainbow Lounge patron Chad Gibson seriously injured. TABC Administrator Alan Steen said Thursday he expects the use of force investigation, which will determine whether the agents were responsible for Gibson’s injuries, to be completed by the end of August.

The 32-page report released Thursday states that the two TABC agents who participated in the raid along with several Fort Worth police officers — Christopher Aller and Jason Chapman — committed a total of 15 policy violations between them, eight by Aller and seven by Chapman.

Most notably, Aller and Chapman failed to get approval for the operation from their supervisor; wore improper attire and violated other established procedures during the raid; failed to later report their use of force in Gibson’s arrest; and failed to report the injuries sustained by Gibson.

The agents’ supervisor, Sgt. Terry Parsons, wasn’t present during the raid but committed four violations, including failure to ensure that the agents filed the necessary reports.

"It’s real clear I think in the findings that those policies were violated, and so it is what it is," Steen said Thursday. "When you look at the whole totality of that particular night, nothing went right, nothing went right for anybody. 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."

Steen said now that the report is complete, the employees have five business days to file written responses, although they could be granted extensions. After that, the agency will determine what disciplinary actions it will take.

Steen acknowledged that Aller, who joined TABC in 2004 and was in charge of Chapman on the night of the raid, has a previous disciplinary violation related to failing to report an incident. Chapman, who joined TABC in April of this year and was still in training, likely will face less serious penalties for his role.

Parsons, who joined TABC in 1989, announced recently amid the investigation his intent to retire effective Sept. 2. Parsons is taking accrued paid leave time until his retirement, but TABC spokesman Carolyn Beck said he could still face disciplinary action.

Jon Nelson, one of the founders of Fairness Fort Worth, the LGBT group that was formed in the wake of the raid, said he was pleased with Thursday’s report from TABC.

"I think it’s a step in the right direction, and I think the TABC has done a very good job on this portion of it," Nelson said. "I think they did a thorough job on this and made the correct findings.

Nelson noted that the Fort Worth police are conducting two of their own internal investigations into the raid. And the Fort Worth City Council has requested that the U.S. Attorney’s Office conduct an independent investigation.

"It’s a first step," Nelson said of Thursday’s report from TABC. "I think it’s a significant step, but it is just a step."

Nelson said he thinks Aller should be terminated based solely on the findings of the report released Thursday, while Chapman’s fate should depend on the results of investigation into the agents’ use of force.

"It’s amazing how one person, Agent Aller, can so totally screw up from top to bottom," Nelson said. "If it weren’t so serious, it reads like something out of the Keystone Cops."

Aller couldn’t be reached Thursday for comment, but he was quoted in the report as saying: "I violated some policy issues. I did not violate anybody’s constitutional rights. Nobody was abused, violated; we weren’t there because of their sexual orientation. I’m very apathetic. I could care less."

The inspection of the Rainbow Lounge "had nothing to do with it being a gay bar," the report quoted Aller as saying.

"I hope I’m not the scapegoat for some things. Like I said I’ll take — I’ll take responsibility for the things I did wrong," Aller said, according to the report.

To read a full copy of the report, click here.

TABC Internal Affairs Investigation Results

Agent Christopher Aller
It was alleged that Agent Christopher Aller:

(1) Participated in a joint operation (bar inspections) with the Fort Worth Police Department on 06-28-09 without approval

(2) Failed to submit a complaint card against the Rainbow Lounge for investigation of possible lewd conduct and sale to intoxicated persons on 06-25-09

(3) Failed to follow instructions on Operational Plan of Red Bull X-Fighters Freestyle Motocross special event on 06-27-09 (left prior to end of assigned shift without approval)

(4) Conducted pre-arranged bar inspections at the Rosedale Saloon, Cowboy Palace, and the Rainbow Lounge on 06-28-09 in unapproved attire (special event uniform)

(5) Failed to follow bar inspection procedures on 06-28-09 at locations listed under allegation #4

(6) Failed to report use of force incident involving arrest of Chad Gibson during bar inspection at Rainbow Lounge on 06-28-09

(7) Failed to report injury of person (Chad Gibson) arrested during bar inspection at Rainbow Lounge on 06-28-09

(8) Disruption of business during bar inspection of Rainbow Lounge on 06-28-09
There was evidence to support a sustained classification on all counts.

Agent Trainee Jason Chapman
It was alleged that Agent-Trainee Jason Chapman:

(1) Participated in a joint operation (bar inspections) with the Fort Worth Police Department on 06-28-09 without approval

(2) Failed to follow instructions on the Operational Plan of the Red Bull X-Fighters Freestyle Motocross special event on 06-27-09 (left prior to end of shift without approval)

(3) Conducted bar inspections at the Rosedale Saloon, Cowboy Palace, and the Rainbow Lounge on 06-28-09 in unapproved attire (special event uniform)

(4) Failed to follow bar inspection procedures on 06-28-09 at locations listed under allegation #3

(5) Failed to report use of force incidents involving arrests of George Armstrong and Chad Gibson during bar inspection at Rainbow Lounge on 06-28-09

(6) Failed to report injury of person (Chad Gibson) in custody during bar inspection at Rainbow Lounge on 06-28-09

(7) Disruption of business during bar inspection at Rainbow Lounge on 06-28-09
There was evidence to support a sustained classification on all counts

Sgt. Terry Parsons
It was alleged that Sgt. Terry Parsons:

(1) Failed to take appropriate action on 06-28-09 after learning Agents Christopher Aller and Jason Chapman participated in a joint operation (bar inspections) in unapproved attire (special event uniform)

(2) Failed to notify supervisors of notification by Agent Christopher Aller of multiple arrests at limited locations on 06-28-09 during a bar inspection operation with the Fort Worth Police Department

(3) Failed to ensure a force report was submitted by Agents Christopher Aller and Jason Chapman regarding their involvement in arrests during bar inspections with the Fort Worth Police Department on 06-28-09

(4) Failed to review the Field Training Officer weekly progress reports of Agent-Trainee Jason Chapman for the first five (5) weeks of Phase 2 (May 27—July 3, 2009)

There was evidence to support a sustained classification on all counts.

E-mail wright@dallasvoice.com

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 7, 2009.

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