Fort Worth Police Department bans ‘bias-based policing’ against LGBT people, other groups

Chief Jeffrey Halstead

The Fort Worth Police Department has a new policy prohibiting “bias-based policing” — including bias against LGBT people — and officers who violate the policy are likely to be fired, according to FWPD officials who spoke to the Star-Telegram.

A police spokesman said the policy is not a response to any specific incident, but acknowledged that the department’s raid of the Rainbow Lounge gay bar in June 2009 was “on our mind.”

FWPD suspended three officers for a total of five days for their actions related to the raid, but determined that they didn’t use excessive force.

Jon Nelson, a founder of Fairness Fort Worth who once called the suspensions “absolutely inadequate,” praised Police Chief Jeffrey Halstead for the new policy.

“This policy would not exist but for the chief of police,” Nelson told the Star-Telegram. “He sets the tone and he made this decision and I think that this Police Department is significantly different because of his leadership.”

Halstead signed a special order enacting the new policy on Friday. It will be distributed to employees next week and takes effect immediately.

The policy specifically prohibits bias based on “race, color, gender, age, national origin, religion, disability, economic status, sexual orientation, gender expression, gender identity, transgender status, membership in a cultural group or other individual characteristics or distinctions.”

—  John Wright

Same-sex rape reported in Oak Lawn during Pride — and a prevention message from DPD

No sooner had a Dallas police spokesman sent over some requested info about a same-sex rape in Oak Lawn over the weekend, than we noticed the above video from DPD about sexual assault prevention. And wouldn’t you know it, the major risk factors described in the video appear to have been very much at work in this weekend’s case. According to the video, alcohol is the No. 1 factor in sex assaults, and in 60 percent of cases the suspect is known to the victim. The video also says that one out of every 33 males in the U.S. will be a victim of sexual assault.

The rape occurred at about 5:30 p.m. on Sunday — the day of gay Pride — in the 4000 block of Fairmont Street, and it involved the suspect penetrating the victim’s anus, according to police reports. Here’s DPD Sr. Cpl’s Kevin Janse’s description:

The victim, a Latino male, was invited over to the suspect’s house and they began drinking. They are friends and have known each other for about a month. A knife was pulled and victim was sexually assaulted. Suspect was arrested down the street. Jimmy Ford, a 23-year-old black male, is charged with aggravated sexual assault.

Here are a few tips from DPD for preventing sexual assault, which has been on the rise in Dallas this year:

• Be aware of your surroundings; know where you are, who you are with, and what you are doing.

• When consuming alcohol at clubs, bars, or restaurants, watch your drink; don’t leave it unattended, even for a few seconds.

• Don’t accept a drink handed to you by a stranger or anyone you have just met.

• If you feel you have been drugged, call 911 immediately.

• Trust your instincts. If something about the situation or the person just does not feel right, it probably is not. Get out of the situation as soon as possible.

—  John Wright

Oak Lawn shooting victim undergoes 2nd surgery

Doug Tull in serious condition but is expected to recover; police say video from nearby bank camera did not record shooting or license plate

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer taffet@dallasvoice.com

Doug Tull
Doug Tull

Doug Tull remained hospitalized this week after being shot during an aggravated robbery in Oak Lawn on Aug. 30.
At about 1 a.m. that Monday, two men jumped from a car directly in front of Tull as he walked along Brown Street, and robbed and shot him at point blank range.

A third man drove the car into the drive-through lane of the American National Bank on Oak Lawn Avenue.

Tull made it to Pekers on Oak Lawn Avenue where co-owner Ron Nelson called for emergency help.

Tull was taken to Parkland Hospital where doctors repaired damage to his large and small intestines, liver and stomach. The bullet, however, remained in his body.

Doctors at first thought the bullet was lodged in Tull’s rectum and they had hoped that it would pass naturally. But on Tuesday, Sept. 7, Tull began running high fever, and doctors operated to remove the bullet.

Tull remains in serious condition.

Police hoped to identify the car used in the attack from surveillance tape taken by the bank. However, a police spokesperson said that while they believe they saw the car on the video, the license plate is unreadable and the camera did not record the shooting, which happened across the street.

Tull said the car is an older, gray, four-door Nissan Altima. He identified the men as African-American, weighing about 150 pounds each and all in their early 20s.

The parking garage manager at the Crescent returned a check with Tull’s address by mail that a cashier found in the lot. Tull confirmed that the check had been folded and in his wallet that was stolen.

When contacted by police, officials at the Crescent gave a copy of their surveillance tapes to police. But the cameras were not pointed in the direction of the car and a police spokesman said the tape was not immediately useful.

The police spokesman said they would retain the tape, which may prove useful for later corroboration.

Darwin Kopaska is a friend of Tull’s and has been with him daily since the shooting. He said that over the weekend, Tull began complaining of pain in his lower back that was more severe than that in his abdomen. The area where the bullet was lodged began to swell. He was taken into surgery at 4 a.m. on Tuesday.

Kopaska also said doctors were concerned about fluid building around his lungs and a urinary tract infection.

After the operation, doctors said the bullet looked like a 9 mm.

Kopaska said that Tull’s mother, brother and sister arrived late last week from out-of-town.

Kopaska said another friend he identified only as Loveta was helpful in contacting Tull’s employer and arranging for short-term disability for him. Tull has worked for Texas Instruments for about 25 years.

Tull was expected to remain in the hospital through this week but is expected to fully recover.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 10, 2010

—  Kevin Thomas

Atlanta police investigate fatal shooting of gay nightclub owner, black Pride organizer

Associated Press

ATLANTA —Police are investigating the shooting death of the co-owner of a popular gay nightclub.

Authorities say 50-year-old Durand Robinson was found shot dead in the middle of an Atlanta street early Wednesday, Aug. 25 following a possible carjacking. Robinson was co-owner of the gay nightclub Traxx and an organizer of the city’s black gay pride celebration.

Atlanta Police spokesman Carlos Campos says Thursday officers are “pursuing all possibilities at this time.” He said authorities have reached no conclusion “whether his sexual orientation or involvement in the gay community played a role in his shooting death.”

Witnesses tell Atlanta police he had gotten into an argument with someone just before shots rang out. Friends say they believe he may have been the victim of an attempted carjacking, but police say they don’t have a motive or suspect.

—  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