Off-duty Dallas police officer accused of choking gay man at W Hotel after Lady Gaga concert

We’re getting preliminary reports about a possible anti-gay incident that occurred last night at the W Hotel in Dallas following the Lady Gaga concert at the American Airlines Center. Malcolm Gage, a prominent local gay businessman, alleges that an off-duty Dallas police officer working security denied his group access to the hotel when they tried to visit a friend who was staying there. Gage said he believes the officer had an issue with the hotel’s LGBT clients. Gage also said that this same officer choked Derrick Brown, chairman of the North Texas GLBT Chamber of Commerce. Both Gage and Brown are black. Here’s Gage’s full description:

“To give you all the cliff notes of this, basically the W Hotel had security last night from the Dallas PD and one particular officer, F. Phelps (Badge #19018) apparently must have had an issue with the LGBT clients of the hotel. We were threatened with criminal trespass for simply trying to go into the hotel to visit friends staying there, in addition, another guy was CHOKED for no apparent reason. Then the hotel solidified it by having the night manager deny entry to us and several others trying to get in. There is obviously more to this story, but telling patrons you need a key just to walk into the hotel is absurd. This is going to be a major PR issue for the W Hotel and the Dallas PD because the gentleman who was choked is even more livid than I am. As a community, we cannot let these things go unnoticed and by not supporting this hotel is the first way we can do that. They will NEVER see my money ever again, nor will I support ANY of their efforts.”

We have messages in to W Hotel General Manager Thomas Caramucci and a Dallas police spokesman about this incident. We’ll update as soon as we hear back.

UPDATE: Here is the response I received late Saturday morning from DPD Sr. Cpl. Kevin Janse, a spokesman for the department:

“I do not show any calls for police out at the W Hotel last night other than officer Phelps documenting a minor disturbance in an elevator but no arrests made and all parties left. So, there is nothing to report on or comment on from this office unless the alleged victim(s) has filed an official complaint with internal affairs. Had he been choked I would hope he would have asked for a supervisor or called 911 but neither of those happened. Perhaps the W has documentation of what took place.”

Via Facebook, here is Brown’s description of the choking incident, which reportedly was separate from the encounter between the officer and Gage’s group:

“A group of us were walking to Ghostbar after the concert. The off duty officer claimed that I grabbed him (which I did not). When trying to tell him so, he grabbed my neck, pushed and pinned me against the wall by my neck telling me to shut up. Needless to say, I am outraged and will ensure action is taken to prevent it happening to someone else in our community.”

And this from Laura Martin, DPD’s LGBT liaison officer:

“I was notified of this complaint this morning from our public information office. I want all of you to know every excessive force complaint is taken seriously. My supervisors are aware of the complaint and are gathering the facts. I am already in contact with Mr Gage and Mr Brown. When the formal complaint is made with internal affairs, every witness will be interviewed. If anyone who witnessed the incident would like to contact me, please send an email to laura.martin@dpd.ci.dallas.tx.us.”

—  John Wright