Update on Ray Hill’s arrest

Ray Hill

Ray Hill

As previously reported by Houstini, longtime Houston LGBT activist Ray Hill was arrested last night after a confrontation with police outside Treasures, a gentlemen’s club on Westhiemer Rd. Hill has been released from jail and posted the following message to his Facebook page:

I was arrested trying to stop power arrogant cops from bullying frightened and vulnerable people (this is not my first rodeo) There will be a trial; they will lie under oath; I will show the video of the whole incident; I will win and then sue and win that case. The system works if you have the tools to use it properly. My lawyer and I will make money off the city in this process. The cycle will end when the City of Houston stops trying to treat adults like they were children…


—  admin

Lawsuit: High school softball coaches in E. Texas outed lesbian teen to her mom

Two high school softball coaches in East Texas are accused of maliciously outing a sophomore player as a lesbian to her mother, then kicking her off the team.

And Kilgore Independent School District officials are accused of defending the coaches’ actions by arguing that they were “legally obligated” to disclose the girl’s sexual orientation to her parents.

The student, identified as S.W., and her mother have filed a federal lawsuit against the coaches, the school district, and an assistant athletic director, accusing them of violating her privacy. The student and her mother are represented by the Austin-based Texas Civil Rights Project in the lawsuit filed Dec. 20 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas.

The lawsuit alleges that the two coaches at Kilgore High School, Rhonda Fletcher and Cassandra Newell, locked S.W. in a locker room in March 2009 and threatened and interrogated her. The coaches allegedly were angry because S.W. was dating a girl whom Newell may have previously dated.

“Fletcher asked S.W. if she was gay, and accused her of having a sexual relationship with another girl. She also claimed that S.W. was spreading gossip about this other girl being ‘Coach Newell’s girlfriend,’” the lawsuit states. “The girl to whom Fletcher was referring had interacted with Newell at a number of school events. At the time of Fletcher and Newell’s confrontation, S.W. was dating that girl.”

—  John Wright

Brutal stabbing shocks Houston’s Montrose area

Aaron Scheerhoorn

A 28-year-old man was brutally stabbed to death in a parking lot in the heart of Houston’s heavily gay Montrose area late Friday night. Police say the suspect, described as clean cut and tidy, chased down the victim in the 700 block of Pacific before stabbing him multiple times and calmly walking away. From the Houston Chronicle:

Authorities do not yet have a motive in the killing — or any evidence it was a hate crime — but several people witnessed the attack, in which the victim was stabbed in the chest, abdomen, forearm, left side and  hand, said Houston homicide Sgt. W. Meeler.

“It was brutal. We think there was some sort of confrontation, and the (victim) ran away and was chased by the suspect and killed,” said Meeler, adding the suspect and victim likely did not know one another.

The victim, who was not identified, was attacked in the parking lot of a night club in the 700 block of Pacific. Police, however, believe the two men were likely in the roadway when the altercation started, not inside the tavern.

KPRC Channel 2 reports that the stabbing occurred outside Blur Bar at 710 Pacific St. and was witnessed by security and patrons. The station reports that witnesses described the attacker as a black man wearing a colored turtleneck.

From the Associated Press:

Police said after the stabbing that they were talking to businesses near the scene to determine whether any had surveillance video that could help the investigation. Police spokesman John Cannon on Saturday told The Associated Press he had no information on how that effort has gone.

Although the victim was attacked in the parking lot, police believe he and his attacker were in the roadway when the altercation began and not inside the tavern. …

Cannon told the AP that a man ran to the door of the night club about 11:30 p.m. Friday, saying he had been stabbed. As he pleaded for help, Cannon said, a man wearing an orange turtleneck sweater and black pants approached the victim from behind and stabbed him several more times.

Meeler said investigators believe the man who did the stabbing took the knife with him because they did not find one at the scene.

Club patrons and security workers saw the attack, but Cannon said it’s not clear whether any of them tried to stop the stabbing or go after the assailant.

UPDATE: The victim has been identified as Aaron Scheerhoorn. Police say the incident was not a hate crime or a robbery, but may have been a crime of passion. The suspect, who remains at large, is described as a tall black man between the ages of 25 and 30.

—  John Wright

Shooting victim recovering

Doug Tull ran to Pekers after being shot in the chest and remains in fair condition at Parkland Hospital

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer  taffet@dallasvoice.com

Doug Tull
POINT BLANK | Oak Lawn resident Doug Tull, shown smoking outside Illusions in 2009 in this file photo, remains in fair condition at Parkland Hospital after being shot at point blank range early Monday morning. (John Wright/Dallas Voice)

A 49-year-old Oak Lawn resident was shot during a robbery early Monday morning, Aug. 30, when he was walking alone in his neighborhood. Doug Tull is recovering at Parkland Hospital following surgery to repair damage from the gunshot wound to his upper abdomen.

Frank Holland, the owner of the bar Pekers, was in his bar when Tull entered at about 1 a.m.

“He walked in the door and said, ‘Help, I’ve been stabbed,’” Holland said.

He said his business partner Ron Nelson ran behind the bar and called 9-1-1.

Nelson said he thought Tull was kidding until he saw the blood.

“Before he [Nelson] hung up, there were two police cars here,” Holland said. But ambulance response was much slower. Holland caught the entire incident on camera and said it took 6½ minutes for the emergency vehicle to arrive.

A witness who asked not to be identified saw the shooting from his apartment.

“I was sitting out on my porch,” he said. “Doug crossed Shelby and Brown walking toward Oak Lawn.”

He heard the confrontation but was too far to help stop it.

He said he heard Tull yell, “I don’t have any money” and then a shot and called police.

So when Tull arrived at Pekers, the police were already on their way to the area.

Tull said that he was walking toward Oak Lawn Avenue and a car pulled up from behind him. He said it stopped about five feet in front of him. Two young men got out of the car.

“I kept walking. They were pointing at something as if looking at a building,” he said. “I kept walking.”

He said when he realized something was wrong, he tried to run, but the assailants were too close and jumped him.

When they demanded money, Tull said he didn’t have any on him. They knocked him to the ground. One of the attackers went through his pockets, took his wallet and then shot him.

Tull thought he had been stabbed.

“I didn’t hear a gunshot,” he said. “I didn’t see a flash.”

Before they fled, Tull said he managed to pull a canister of mace from his pocket and spray one of the assailants.

Tull said the two attackers ran to the car waiting in the bank parking lot across the street, yelling, “Mace! Mace! Mace!”

Holland said he told the police that what he saw was a round puncture wound in Tull’s abdomen. He said the shooting must have been at point-blank range.

There was confusion at first about where the incident took place. The original police report said the shooting occurred at Shelby and Brown streets.

Tull later told police that he was attacked in front of the barbershop across Brown Street from the American National Bank parking lot.

Police were checking with the bank to see if their cameras recorded the incident and caught the license plate of the car. After the two attackers got out of the car, the driver pulled into the bank’s drive-through lane.

Tull identified the suspects as three black men in their early to mid-20s, driving an older four-door, gray Nissan Altima. They were dressed in white T-shirts and jeans and weighed about 150 pounds each.

After the attackers fled, Tull ran to Pekers less than a block away.

Tull was taken from the bar to Parkland Hospital where he was in intensive care for a day. Although the bullet entered his body directly under his heart, the only damage was to his stomach, liver and large and small intestines.

While operating, doctors were unable to find a bullet. Later x-rays found it lodged in his rectum. They said it may pass out of his body.

“Doctors can’t believe how fast I’m recovering,” Tull said from his hospital bed on Wednesday, Sept. 1.

The gunman was aiming down, he explained. The bullet shot at point blank range apparently ricocheted off of Tull’s sternum, which is why it did not exit his body. Although the incision made to repair his internal organs is more than six inches long, Tull was out of bed and walking by Wednesday. His right arm is bruised, he said, because the assailants were bouncing on his arm. He has a cut across his forehead but no other facial injuries.

Frank Holland
Frank Holland

On Wednesday, his friend Darwin Kopaska checked Tull’s mail. The parking garage manager at the Crescent sent Tull a check that one of his cashiers found in the parking lot. Tull confirmed that the check had been folded in his wallet.

Dallas Voice passed that information to police who are checking video at the Crescent parking garage to see if their cameras caught the assailants’ car.

Police detectives and LGBT police liaison Laura Martin are looking into the attack.

Tull said that no anti-gay epithets were shouted during the incident but police are not ruling out the possibility it was a hate crime.

While several other attacks have taken place near the Oak Lawn entertainment district recently, this is the first street shooting in awhile.

In May four men with baseball bats assaulted two men on Throckmorton Street near Congress Avenue. In 2008, Jimmy Lee Dean was beaten in a brutal attack just a block off the main Cedar Springs strip.

On April 16, 2007, Jose Landa was shot to death in a parking lot on Cedar Springs Road after stopping to get cash at the ATM on the street.

Police have warned people not to walk alone citing safety in numbers. However, when Jimmy Lee Dean was attacked, he was walking with Michael Robinson. The attack in May involved a couple walking together, and Jose Landa was with his wife and several friends.

Along with the incident report, police issued a neighborhood warning after the Tull attack. After the May baseball bat attack, police were criticized for not alerting the community sooner.

Apartment complexes in the area have not been as vigilant in passing along the warning. The witness said that management in his complex has remained silent on the attack.

In a separate incident, a jogger found a man unconscious on the jogging trail along Turtle Creek Boulevard early Friday morning, Aug. 27.

At about 7:15 a.m. police were called to assist the injured Oak Lawn man. It was not apparent at the time what happened to Shawn Stumph, nor do police know how long he had been there.

He was found laying unconscious on the trail near Bowen Street. A section of the guardrail along a now-closed section of road is missing above where Stumph was found. The drop to the creek bed below is about 30 feet.

Police are not sure if Stumph fell or was pushed in an attack, but said his wallet was in his pocket when he was found and there was no sign of a struggle. Stumph was rushed to Parkland Hospital and remains in critical condition in intensive care. He has extensive head injuries and is not able to answer police questions.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 3, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens

Take me out to the ballgame

Minor league manager’s vulgar tirade against baseball’s only openly gay umpire costs him his job, but umpire handles attack with calm

Leslie Robinson General Gayety

Even if you don’t like baseball, you’ve probably seen video of a team manager vociferously arguing a call with an umpire. The manager might throw his cap. He might throw a base. He might throw out his back throwing a base.

Brent Bowers, skipper of a minor league team, performed an unusual physical maneuver and delivered a scalding tirade during a confrontation with openly gay umpire Billy Van Raaphorst. Bowers now has a place in baseball history, but it will only get him into the Hall of Shame.

On July 31, Bowers’ Edmonton Capitals played the Orange County Flyers in Fullerton, Calif. Van Raaphorst, of Irvine, Calif., was the crew chief.

In the first inning, another umpire called a close play at first base. Bowers and some of his players pointedly objected to the call. Van Raaphorst warned them.

When Bowers and two players continued beefing, Van Raaphorst ejected them, the second day in a row he’d tossed Bowers in the first inning.

Bowers promptly benched his brain.

Outsports.com obtained the official report Van Raaphorst gave to the Golden Baseball League in which the umpire provided his account of what happened next.

Bowers ran over to him and screamed, “You know what I heard? I heard you are a fucking faggot … . So what do you do you fucking faggot? Do you take it up the fucking ass, you faggot?”

Bowers bent over and grabbed his ankles, apparently fearful the umpire hadn’t understood his words and a visual aid was in order.

This leader of men screamed into Van Raaphorst’s face, “What’s the matter, did your fucking boyfriend fucking cum on your face today? Is that how you like it you fucking faggot?”

It was a fine, family-friendly day at the ballpark.

Bowers threatened, “I ought to kick your ass you faggot.”

The plate umpire came over and Van Raaphorst walked away. Bowers screamed at the plate umpire, “I know he is a faggot. I was told by [two prominent people in the league] that he is a fucking faggot. I know he is a faggot!”

Whew. Van Raaphorst, who stands 6-foot, 4 inches, did well not to knock him into the hotdog stand.

Several possibilities here. The first is clear: This manager can’t manage his anger.

As to the second and third possibilities, his rant was so extreme and so primal, Bowers either is a poster child for the testosterone-soaked ethos of pro sports, or he’s gay.

My bet is the former. The very idea of the latter probably makes him want to throw bats out of the dugout — and probably preferably with me in the way for even suggesting such a thing.

The Golden Baseball League responded to the homophobic tirade by suspending Bowers for two games. Yup, a whole two games. That decision was the foulest of foul balls.

Fortunately, Van Raaphorst’s fellow umps were incensed over this slap on the wrist, and threatened to walk off the job. The league then suspended Bowers for the rest of the season.

Bowers, who admitted to the tongue-lashing, resigned.

The guy without a job said he regrets what he did. “I’ve grown up more in three days than ever before,” said Bowers.

That still makes him only about 14.

The league president said, due to this incident, all 10 teams will be required to go through diversity training. Now that is a grand slam.

Kudos to Billy Van Raaphorst, who managed to endure an appalling situation. I don’t know if there’s a blessing for baseball umpires, so I’ll make one up: May your calls be accurate, may your temper be slow, and may a line drive never land in your teeth.

Leslie Robinson lives in Seattle. E-mail her at lesarobinson@gmail.com, and read other columns at GeneralGayety.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 20, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens

DPD, W hotel investigating gay man’s complaint against officer

GLBT Chamber chair says officer working security at hotel choked him in anti-gay incident after concert

John Wright  |  Online Editor wright@dallasvoice.com

Derrick Brown
Derrick Brown

The chair of the North Texas GLBT Chamber of Commerce filed a complaint this week against a Dallas police officer who allegedly choked him during a confrontation outside the W-Dallas Victory hotel following a Lady Gaga concert on Friday, July 23.

Derrick Brown filed the complaint on Wednesday, July 28, against Officer F. Phelps, who was off-duty and working security for the hotel at the time of the incident.

Phelps, who was in uniform, reportedly accused Brown of grabbing his buttocks as they crossed paths near the street entrance to Ghostbar, a business inside the hotel.

“A group of us were walking to Ghostbar after the concert,” Brown said in a message posted online Saturday, July 24. “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.”

Brown was traveling this week and couldn’t be reached for further comment. Another member of Brown’s group who witnessed the incident didn’t respond to a phone message.

Sr. Cpl. Kevin Janse, a spokesman for the Dallas Police Department, confirmed Wednesday afternoon that Brown had filed a complaint against Phelps.

“There has been a complaint filed with our internal affairs division and an investigation has begun into the allegations against the officer,” Janse said. “This process will take some time so that we can conduct a very thorough investigation.”

Janse would not provide a copy of Brown’s complaint, saying the newspaper would need to file a formal records request.

The confrontation with Brown was one of two separate incidents involving Phelps and gay hotel patrons that occurred just minutes apart after the concert at the nearby American Airlines Center.

Another gay leader, Malcolm Gage, alleges that Phelps threatened him with arrest after he tried to enter the hotel to visit a friend who was staying there.

Gage, director of finance at Park Place Volvo and a board member for the national Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund, said he also planned to file a complaint with DPD.

“I took issue with the attitude of the officer and the way he was treating us and what the W did, but with Derrick it’s considerably more serious because he [Phelps] attacked him,” Gage told Dallas Voice. “This guy screams at Derrick and says, ‘You grabbed my ass.’ Derrick’s issue is a much bigger issue.”

Gage said he and his roommate drove from the Lady Gaga concert and parked their vehicle using the hotel’s valet service. As they walked toward the main entrance of the hotel, they were stopped by a security guard who told them they needed a room key to come in.

When Gage explained that they were visiting a hotel guest, the security guard said they would need to call their friend and have him come down to meet them.

Gage, who says he visits the hotel frequently, questioned why this was necessary and said it was a major inconvenience because their friend was already entertaining other guests.

The security guard then summoned Phelps and another off-duty DPD officer. Phelps reportedly told Gage, “Look here man, if you don’t leave the property I’m going to arrest you for criminal trespassing.”

Words were exchanged between the parties before the second DPD officer pulled Gage aside and said, “If this were off [hotel] property then this probably would have been a little more physical removal, so I’m being nice right now by talking to you,” according to Gage.

The hotel’s night manager arrived and asked Gage and his roommate to leave. When Gage asked for a valid reason, Phelps said, “You need to do what I say.”

As Gage and his roommate left, Phelps said things like, “What you going to do now?” according to Gage.

“I would like to notify you that I plan to not only file formal complaints against the officers mentioned, but I will do everything in my legal rights to make sure that this does not happen to another member of the Dallas LGBT community,” Gage wrote in a letter to the general manager of the W hotel. “I feel that we were discriminated against because we were gay and the hotel staff was just as much at fault as the officers involved.”

The general manager, Thomas Caramucci, told Dallas Voice in a statement that the hotel is investigating.

“We are aware of the incident and are currently looking further into the details of the situation, in cooperation with the Dallas Police Department,” Caramucci said. “Please know that the safety and comfort of our guests is our top priority and any and all situations receive our utmost attention.  … As you are aware W Dallas-Victory and the W brand are a strong supporters of the LGBT community and we appreciate the opportunity to respond.”

The W Dallas-Victory is owned by Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, which maintains a perfect score of 100 on the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index.

“As previously stated, the safety and comfort of our guests is a top priority,” Caramucci said in a follow-up statement. “To meet that end, in instances where large crowds are involved (i.e. popular concerts, Victory Park events, New Year’s Eve, etc.) it is our policy to request that anyone entering the front lobby doors present a key card to gain entry after 9:00 PM. Extra security is also hired to help ensure the added safety and enjoyment of our patrons. Though no one involved in Friday’s incident was a hotel guest, we take any situation that occurs on our property very seriously and are continuing to investigate the matter.

“W Dallas-Victory and the W brand are strong supporters of the LGBT community, and the hotel values the relationship and rapport we have built,” Caramucci added. “We have and will continue to demonstrate our support by participating in the local pride parade, Pride in the Park, BubbleQ and other events and fundraisers. Additionally, we offer our Pride 365 Package year-round.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition July 30, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas