TABC settles with Rainbow Lounge patrons

The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission has settled with two patrons injured in the June 2009 raid of the Rainbow Lounge.

Chad Gibson, who suffered a serious head injury in the raid, will receive $210,000 from TABC, the Star-Telegram reports. George Armstrong, who suffered a torn rotator cuff, will receive $15,000.

The city of Fort Worth, whose officers conducted the raid along with TABC agents, previously settled with Gibson for $400,000 and Armstrong for $40,000.

“It is done. They are very relieved,” Don Tittle, attorney for both men, told the Star-Telegram. “I think they feel that they received a level of justice, although it was slow. The monetary compensation was fair but I think it was important to both of them that there be change within both organizations. As a result of the incident, both Fort Worth and TABC have taken affirmative steps to improve relations and to be more sensitive to diversity.”

TABC spokeswoman Carolyn Beck told Instant Tea that the settlements were actually agreed to during mediation in March, but had to be signed off on by the offices of the attorney general and the governor.

“Those approvals came thorugh in June, and so here we are now,” Beck said. “We are happy that we were able to come to an agreement with mediation, and I personally feel like our relationship with the LGBT community is a lot different than it was two years ago, and I hope that it continues to stay postiive.”

—  John Wright

Fort Worth settles with Rainbow Lounge patrons

CASE CLOSED | It has been a year and a half since Chad Gibson was injured in the Rainbow Lounge raid. This week, the Fort Worth City Council approved a $400,000 settlement payment.

Chad Gibson to receive $400,000; TABC agreement not yet signed

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

FORT WORTH — The Fort Worth City Council on Tuesday, March 22, voted unanimously and without discussion to accept a consent agenda that included an award of $400,000 to Chad Gibson, the man who received head injuries in the 2009 Rainbow Lounge raid.

George Armstrong, another man injured that night, settled for a lower amount. Because his award was less than $50,000, the council did not have to vote on that settlement.

The two injured men entered into mediation with the city of Fort Worth and the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission.

Any agreement from settlement negotiations with TABC has not been signed. The state’s approval process takes longer than the city’s.

Don Tittle, the attorney who represented Gibson and Armstrong in mediation with the city, said, “We thought it was a fair resolution.”

Adam Seidel is a defense attorney who has been working with Gibson and Armstrong since criminal charges were filed the night of the raid. Those charges have since been dropped.

Seidel said that both Gibson and Armstrong would have preferred the events at Rainbow Lounge hadn’t happened at all.

“An experience like that impacts you for some period of time,” Seidel said. “You don’t just put that into a small box and put it away.”

Gibson continues to receive medical treatment related to his head injury. Armstrong had a rotator cuff injury and will likely face surgery.

“This will make finishing that easier for him,” Seidel said.

Jason P. Lamers, the manager of Fort Worth’s Office of Media and Public Affairs, sent the official city response. He said the council acted on advice of the legal counsel, and the intention was to limit the city’s financial exposure.

“This settlement is not an admission of liability on the part of the city, but rather a recognition of the nature of civil rights litigation,” said Lamers. “It was city staff’s recommendation — and the City Council agreed — that, considering the circumstances, not only is this settlement the right thing to do, but it is also in the best interest of the city and taxpayers.”

Tittle wasn’t sure why the city included a statement of no admission of liability.

“We released all claims as part of the deal,” he said.

He thought they might have been concerned that since the two-year statute of limitations had not passed, someone else might come forward with a suit.

“But it waters down the good will,” he said.

And although Fort Worth, and presumably TABC, claim no liability for the incident, Tittle said, “$400,000 speaks for itself.”

Tom Anable, president of Fairness Fort Worth, a group formed in the wake of the Rainbow Lounge raid, only commented on the progress that has been made since the event.

He said that this was the first time the city of Fort Worth had ever entered into mediation without a federal lawsuit being filed. He also said it was the first time Fort Worth had ever compensated a member of the LGBT community for unfair treatment by the city.

David Mack Henderson, also with Fairness Fort Worth, was at the city council meeting. He said that a number of reporters with TV cameras were at City Hall and requested interviews but he refused. He said Fort Worth’s LGBT community is moving on and that there was nothing to talk about.

“We’re just part of the city — the way it should be,” Henderson said.

Lamers said that you couldn’t talk about the Rainbow Lounge story without talking about the strides the LGBT community has made in Fort Worth.

“Fort Worth has made remarkable progress to become an even more inclusive city than it ever was,” he said. “That’s a credit to our City Council, our police department led by Chief Jeff Halstead and the GLBT leaders in the city’s workforce and in our communities. We’re very proud of theprogress that has been made.”

After the Rainbow Lounge raid, Halstead made significant changes to the police department by clarifying the department’s policies on conducting bar checks, adding an LGBT liaison and, recently, enacting an anti-bias policing policy to strengthen existing rules against discrimination by officers.

The council voted in October 2009 to add transgender protections to its nondiscrimination policies. The council also appointed a city manager’s diversity task force and has approved 14 of 15 recommendations the task force made, including offering domestic partner benefits for city employees.

Anable said that the city has worked closely with the Tarrant County Gay Pride Week Association to stage this year’s parade. Pride will be held downtown for the 30th anniversary making it more visible than it’s ever been, he said.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition March 25, 2011.

—  John Wright

Fort Worth City Council approves settlement with Rainbow Lounge patrons Gibson, Armstrong

Tom Anable
Tom Anable

The Fort Worth City Council voted without discussion this morning to award a settlement of $400,000 to Chad Gibson, the Rainbow Lounge patron who was injured during the Police Department’s raid of the gay bar in 2009.

Also approved was a settlement with Rainbow Lounge patron George Armstrong, who was also injured. Because that amount awarded to Armstrong is less than $50,000, it did not need to be approved by the council.

David Mack Henderson of Fairness Fort Worth was at the council meeting during the vote. He said no one signed up to speak at the end of the meeting. He said TV cameras were at City Hall, but no one from his group was giving interviews.

“We’re just part of the city — the way it should be,” Henderson said. “Moving on. Nothing to talk about.”

Officer Sara Straten, the Fort Worth Police Department’s liaison to the LGBT community, was scheduled to speak to TV news this afternoon about the improved relations between the city and the LGBT community, according to Henderson. Straten was appointed in the wake of the Rainbow Lounge raid.

Tom Anable, of Fairness Fort Worth, was in Austin for the anti-bullying hearings in the Senate Education Committee this morning but called Dallas Voice during the recess. Anable called the settlement unprecedented. He said this is the first time the city of Fort Worth has entered mediation without a federal lawsuit being filed. He also said it was the first time the city made a settlement with someone from the LGBT community.

Still pending is the settlement between Gibson and Armstrong and the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission, which conducted the raid along with the FWPD. While there is an agreement in place, TABC still must review and sign it.

—  David Taffet

TABC, Fort Worth consider settlement with patrons injured in Rainbow Lounge raid

Tom Anable

Fort Worth city administrators are recommending that the City Council approve a settlement with Chad Gibson, one of the patrons who was injured in the Rainbow Lounge raid. The pending settlement is a result of mediation among the city, the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission and Gibson’s attorneys.

The amount of the settlement from the city is $400,000. The amount from TABC has not been released.

The raid by Fort Worth police officers and TABC agents occurred on June 28, 2008, the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion.

Gibson suffered a head injury. George Armstrong was also injured and is included in the settlement. Pending felony charges against Gibson and Armstrong were dropped toward the end of last year before the mediation began.

Three Fort Worth police officers received short suspensions, and two TABC agents were fired, as a result of the incident.

Tom Anable, a founder of Fairness Fort Worth, a group formed in the wake of the raid, said he’s pleased that the city had come to an agreement.

“I think that the willingness of the city to enter into mediation without a federal lawsuit being filed is an indication of their willingness to move forward with our community,” Anable said.

Anable said this is the first time the city has entered into mediation without the threat of a federal lawsuit and the first time a city and TABC entered into joint negotiations.

“That speaks volumes of the city and of TABC,” Anable said. “No one wants to go backward, and that’s the story.”

While Anable said he has no inside information about the negotiations, he added, “As with any mediation, it’s successful if neither side is really happy but both are satisfied.”

Carolyn Beck, a spokeswoman for TABC, said, “TABC has engaged in settlement discussions with [Gibson] attorney Don Tittle. At this time the parties have agreed not to comment on those discussions until any resolution is finalized.”

Adam Seidel, an attorney for Gibson and Armstrong, was not available for comment this morning.

The item is on the agenda for Tuesday’s Fort Worth City Council meeting.

Gibson, who was hospitalized after the raid, is still receiving treatment for the injuries he sustained.

—  David Taffet

City drops charges stemming from Rainbow Lounge raid in July 2009

Man who suffered brain injury in raid had been facing public intoxication, misdemeanor assault charges

Tammye Nash  |  Senior Editor nash@dallasvoice.com

FORT WORTH — The Fort Worth City Attorney’s office announced last week that it had dropped all charges against Chad Gibson and other individuals arrested in the June 28, 2009 raid on the Rainbow Lounge.

Gibson was hospitalized for a head injury he incurred during the raid, although questions remain about whether Gibson was injured when an agent with the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission slammed him against a wall in the club and then threw him to the floor, or when Gibson fell on the sidewalk outside while he was handcuffed.

Gibson was charged with misdemeanor public intoxication and misdemeanor assault on a law enforcement officer after TABC Agent Chris Aller said Gibson groped him while he was attempting to arrest Gibson.

However, Aller and the second TABC agent involved in the raid, as well as their supervising sergeant, were fired after TABC officials conducted an internal investigation and determined that the agents should not have raided the bar in the first place.

An internal investigation conducted by the Fort Worth Police Department also indicated that FWPD officers involved in the raid had violated procedures, and three officers were suspended for a total of five days as a result.

A second Rainbow Lounge patron, George Armstrong, said he suffered severe bruising and a muscle strain when police arrested him. He was charged with misdemeanor public intoxication.

Adam Seidel, attorney for both Gibson and Armstrong, said he had received a notice from the court in the first part of last week that Gibson’s case had been set for jury trial on Dec. 7. Shortly afterward, however, he was notified by the court clerk that the charges had been dismissed.

“I am glad they did the right thing and dropped their charges against these two victims. It shows a commitment to move forward,” Seidel said.

City officials issued a statement Friday afternoon, Nov. 19, saying that Class C misdemeanor charges stemming from the Rainbow Lounge raid against Dylan Brown and Jose Macias, as well as Gibson and Armstrong, had been dropped, but declined to comment further.

According to the statement, the charges that have been dismissed were public intoxication charges against Jose A. Macias, Dylan T. Brown, Armstrong and Gibson. A charge of assault by contact against Gibson was also dropped.

Gibson suffered bleeding in his brain and is still receiving treatment for his injuries, according to Tom Anable, president of Fairness Fort Worth.

FFW was formed in the wake of the raid initially to help witnesses give testimony for both FWPD’s and TABC’s internal investigations. The organization has since become more formally organized and has been directly involved in negotiations with city officials that played a role in the vote to add protections for transgenders to the city’s nondiscrimination policy and in the recent vote to offer partner benefits to the city’s LGBT employees.

Anable said Thursday, Nov. 18, that Fairness Fort Worth is pleased with the city’s decision to drop the charges against Gibson and Armstrong.

“I think they finally just realized that the facts of the case didn’t support the charges,” Anable said. “I think this is a real positive step forward. It’s a show of good faith as we continue to resolve the issues related to the incident at the Rainbow Lounge.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 26, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens

BREAKING: Fort Worth city attorney drops charges against Rainbow Lounge patrons

This photo, taken by Chuck Potter inside Rainbow Lounge on June 28, 2009, is believed to show TABC agents arresting Chad Gibson

A spokesman in the office of Fort Worth Mayor Mike Moncrief has just confirmed reports we received earlier this morning that the city attorney’s office has dropped all charges against Chad Gibson and George Armstrong in connection with the June 28, 2009 raid on the Rainbow Lounge.

The spokesman said the city would release a statement later this afternoon, so watch Instant Tea for updates.

Gibson was hospitalized for a head injury he incurred during the raid, although questions remain about whether Gibson was injured when an agent with the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission slammed him against a wall in the club and then threw him to the floor, or when Gibson fell on the sidewalk outside while he was handcuffed.

Armstrong, who said he suffered severe bruising and a muscle strain when police arrested him, was charged with misdemeanor public intoxication.

Gibson was charged with misdemeanor public intoxication and misdemeanor assault on a law enforcement officer after TABC Agent Chris Aller said Gibson groped him while he was attempting to arrest Gibson. However, Aller and the second TABC agent involved in the raid, as well as their supervising sergeant, were fired after TABC officials conducted an internal investigation and determined that the agents should not have raided the bar in the first place.

An internal investigation conducted by the Fort Worth Police Department also indicated that FWPD officers involved in the raid had violated procedures, and three officers were suspended for a total of five days as a result.

Adam Seidel, attorney for both Gibson and Armstrong, said he had received a notice from the court earlier this week that Gibson’s case had been set for jury trial on Dec. 7. Shortly afterward, however, he was notified by the court clerk that the charges had been dismissed.

“I am glad they did the right thing and dropped their charges against these two victims. It shows a commitment to move forward,” Seidel said.

Gibson suffered bleeding in his brain and is still receiving treatment for his injuries, according to Tom Anable, president of Fairness Fort Worth.

FFW was formed in the wake of the raid initially to help witnesses give testimony for both FWPD’s and TABC’s internal investigations. The organization has since become more formally organized and has been directly involved in negotiations with city officials that played a role in the vote to add protections for transgenders to the city’s nondiscrimination policy and in the recent vote to offer partner benefits to the city’s LGBT employees.

Anable said Thursday that Fairness Fort Worth is pleased with the city’s decision to drop the charges against Gibson and Armstrong.

“I think they finally just realized that the facts of the case didn’t support the charges,” Anable said. “I think this is a real positive step forward. It’s a show of good faith as we continue to resolve the issues related to the incident at the Rainbow Lounge.”

—  admin