City offers $20K settlement to Baton Bob for 2013 arrest

City offers $20K settlement to Baton Bob for 2013 arrest

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Bob Jamerson, more commonly known as “Baton Bob,” was arrested June 26, 2013 in Midtown Atlanta. (Photo: Ben Martin/Special)

The City of Atlanta has agreed to pay $20,000 to street performer Baton Bob to settle a federal lawsuit filed after his 2013 arrest in Midtown, according to a City Council resolution.

The Atlanta City Council’s Public Safety Committee approved the settlement at a 3 p.m. meeting Tuesday. The City Council will get the final vote at an upcoming meeting, but is expected to make the settlement final.

Bob Jamerson, 62, said he was celebrating the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to end the federal ban on same-sex marriage when he donned a short wedding dress and hit a Midtown street corner on June 26, 2013, his lawsuit stated. But his performance was halted by his arrest, and he was charged with two counts of simple assault and one count of obstruction against the officer, all misdemeanors.

Jamerson was in handcuffs while an officer, under the supervision of his lieutenant, logged on to Facebook with Jamerson’s password and posted a statement.

“I want to verify, that the Atlanta police was respectful to me considering the circumstances,” the statement read in part.

The Atlanta street performer — known for his batons, costumes and dancing on city sidewalks — should never have been arrested, and his constitutional rights were violated, his federal lawsuit filed in February stated. The lawsuit represents a continued fight for the gay and lesbian community, attorney Joshua Brownlee previously told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Brownlee declined to comment on the pending settlement Tuesday afternoon.

After his arrest, Jamerson was booked into the Fulton County and released the following day on a signature bond. An internal affairs investigation was completed in December 2013, and a police lieutenant was suspended for five days and an officer, who later resigned, was suspended one day, the lawsuit states. In December 2014, the charges against Jamerson were dropped.

In March, the City called Jamerson’s claims “baseless” in a statement to the AJC.

“The City will defend this matter vigorously and expects to prevail,” the statement said.

But the resolution offering Jamerson a settlement states the City determined it was in its best interest to have the case dismissed.

“The City Attorney has done extensive review of the facts and the law and has determined that the City’s potential financial exposure in defending against Plaintiff’s claim is in excess of the Settlement Amount,” the resolution states.

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