Dallas police: 2nd rock was found outside ‘A-List: Dallas’ cast member Taylor Garrett’s apartment

Taylor Garrett

Two rocks with threatening notes attached — not one — were found last week outside a broken window at the Design District apartment of Taylor Garrett, a gay Republican cast member from the The A-List Dallas.

Laura Martin, LGBT liaison officer for the Dallas Police Department, said today that a porter at the complex found the first rock in some mulch in the bushes. The porter looked up and saw broken glass on the door to Garrett’s second-floor balcony. The porter notified the apartment manager, who contacted a Dallas police officer who lives at the complex. It’s unclear when the porter actually found the rock, Martin said, but records show the officer filed his report last Friday morning and placed the rock into evidence.

Martin said the officer wasn’t initially able to contact Garrett, who has said he returned late last Thursday from Los Angeles, where he’d been filming for The A List. When someone from the complex finally got ahold of Garrett, they went onto the balcony and discovered a second rock with a similar note attached. They also discovered that the double-pane glass window was broken only halfway through, Martin said.

—  John Wright

WATCH: Channel 5 shines a very favorable ‘Spotlight’ on the LGBT community in N. Texas

 

A while back Dallas Voice received a visit from some folks at NBC 5, who interviewed Publisher Robert Moore and Senior Editor Tammye Nash about the newspaper’s role in the LGBT community.

To be perfectly honest, no one around here was quite sure what the segment was for, but thanks to a tip from Rafael McDonnell at Resource Center Dallas, now we know: It’ll be part of a program called Spotlight, which airs at 11:30 a.m. Sunday on Channel 5. On Spotlight, “North Texas correspondents come together in order to spin narratives from real-life stories involving persons who contribute to their community,” according to the NBC 5 website.

We also found a site dedicated to the show, where they’ve posted several of the segments about the LGBT community. In addition to Dallas Voice,  there are segments on Youth First Texas, transgender Dallas Police Officer Deborah Grabowski, a Haltom City lesbian couple that adopted a child; the Dallas Diablos; three LGBT-affirming churches in Oak Cliff; gay filmmaker Marlon T. Riggs; and LULAC #4871 President Jesse Garcia.

We know, it seems like a lot, but each segment is only a few minutes long, and they’re all well done.

Major kudos to NBC 5 for putting these together, but you don’t have to wait till Sunday to see them. We’ve posted all of the segments, in the same order they’re listed above, after the jump.

—  John Wright

PD offers tips on staying safe as crowds come to Oak Lawn for Pride

Shooting, recent uptick in muggings raise concerns in the gayborhood

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer taffet@dallasvoice.com

LGBT Liaison Officer Laura Martin
LGBT Liaison Officer Laura Martin

Pride weekend is expected bring huge crowds to the Oak Lawn area. But will the extra crowds translate into safety in numbers, or will it offer more chances for random attacks?
Dallas Police Officer Laura Martin, the department’s LGBT liaison, said that there would be at least 40 off-duty officers patrolling during the parade and festival in Lee Park.

Depending upon the size of the crowd, additional on-duty officers will also be in the area.

Martin said that any time crime is reported in an area, patrols are stepped up. But that doesn’t mean that officers will be found on every corner, and she warned anyone coming to Oak Lawn to take safety precautions.

“Parking in well lit areas makes a difference,” she said. “Don’t walk alone. Be aware of your surroundings.”

She said to be aware of groups of people that look they might be up to no good.

“Don’t be afraid to offend them,” she said, advising that people turn around or cross the street.

Because of the number of people who will be in Oak Lawn, Martin said that parking will be a problem. Available parking may be farther from the bars than usual. And she warned visitors to the area not to park illegally or in lots marked for towing.

“A lot of cars will be towed this weekend,” Martin said.

She suggested that people who are staying to go to the bars or restaurants on Cedar Springs after the parade and festival in Lee Park either move cars closer early in the evening as the crowds thin or take a cab back to their car later at night.

Martin also suggested that visitors “avoid ATMs in the area where you’re going to be.” She suggested going to the ATM near home or stopping off for cash the day before, and said visitors to the area shouldn’t carry too much cash with them.

A robbery in Oak Lawn last week involved someone who was carrying cash that he had not gotten to deposit in the bank.

On Sept. 10, a 21-year-old man was held up at gunpoint at as he was retrieving keys from a friend’s car on Dickason Avenue, one block from the bars on Cedar Springs Road.

Two Latin males in their 20s demanded money and property and got away with $500 in cash and a cell phone valued at $500. The incident happened at 10:15 p.m. The victim, who asked not to be identified, was not injured.

Several other incidents have occurred in the area over the past month.

On Aug. 30, Oak Lawn resident Doug Tull was shot in a robbery on Brown Street just a couple of blocks from his apartment. After two emergency surgeries, he was scheduled to be released from Parkland Hospital on Thursday, Sept. 16.

On Aug. 19, Kellen Sullivan was at Uncle Julio’s on Lemmon celebrating a friend’s birthday when he stepped outside to smoke. He was standing about 10 feet from the entrance when he was assaulted. Although Sullivan willingly gave the mugger his wallet, the man still hit him in the face with his pistol and ran.

“My nose was a complete bloody mess,” said Sullivan. “I had a gash on the side of my eye.”

He said that his has three scars from the attack and left the side of his eye is misshapen.

Two witnesses saw the attack. One said that he saw the suspect take the wallet and run through an alley toward Wycliff Avenue. He and another witness followed the suspect down the alley and reported to police that he jumped into a waiting gold Chevrolet Cavalier parked at an apartment complex off Wycliff Avenue.

The suspects drove off with their lights off, and the witnesses were unable to get the license plate number in the dark.

Allison said Sullivan came back into the restaurant with two black eyes and a cut on his cheek. Dallas Fire-Rescue treated him at the scene.

Violent crime is down in the city of Dallas by 7.3 percent for the year. The biggest decrease is in the murder rate. Rape is the only category that shows an increase.

Aggravated assaults are down, but only by less than 1 percent.

Overall crime is also down in the reporting district that includes the Cedar Springs entertainment area and surrounding neighborhoods, but reported street attacks on members of LGBT community appear to be on the increase.

Martin said that she would like to see increased reporting by witnesses. Although she said she hopes most people feel comfortable working with officers assigned to patrol the area, she said she is there for anyone who was not.

Martin said she understands concerns of people who are not out, have employment concerns or are married and she can take witness information confidentially. She can be reached at a non-police department e-mail at police@rcdallas.org.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 17, 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

W hotel responds to alleged anti-gay incidents

Malcolm Gage

Thomas Caramucci, general manager of the W Dallas – Victory hotel, issued a statement Sunday responding to our inquiry about two alleged anti-gay incidents at the hotel on Friday night following the Lady Gaga concert at the American Airlines Center. Both incidents reportedly involved the same off-duty Dallas police officer who was working security at the hotel. Derrick Brown, chair of the North Texas GLBT Chamber of Commerce, alleges that the off-duty officer used excessive force by choking him during a confrontation that occurred as Brown was making his way to Ghostbar, inside the W. Another gay man, Malcolm Gage, said his group was unfairly denied access to the hotel when they tried to visit friends who were staying there. Brown and Gage, who are both black, indicated that they planned to file an internal affairs complaint against the officer today.

“Thank you for reaching out to us,” Caramucci said in an e-mail sent Sunday. “We are aware of the incident and are currently looking further into the details of the situation, in cooperation with the Dallas Police Department. Please know that the safety and comfort of our guests is our top priority and any and all situations receive our utmost attention. Again, thanks for your inquiry. 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.”

It’s worth noting that Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, which owns the W Dallas -Victory, received a perfect score of 100 on the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index in 2010. Stay tuned to Instant Tea and Dallas Voice for details about the investigation.

—  John Wright

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