“My supervisors and commanding officers encouraged these searches in more than one way,” former officer Cayenne Mayes said in his affidavit. “They told us to ‘always check the underwear,’ … making very clear that Red Dog teams had to meet arrest quotas.”
Mayes was fired in 2011 for untruthfulness regarding a botched 2007 raid at a Midtown Atlanta gay bar.
“I was not a rogue officer,” Stalone Davis, who resigned from the APD, said in his affidavit. “I was following orders to make a strong presence, make arrests, help get drugs off the street… What we did was fine with the department so long as we were making arrests.”
Sampson sued the city as well as the five officers involved in the incident.
The Atlanta Police Department denies both the claims in Sampson’s suit and in the officers’ affidavits.
“Mr. Sampson’s lawsuit has no merit, and the allegations of former APD officers relating to the lawsuit are baseless,” APD said in an email. “The city will continue to defend the lawsuit in federal court, and we are confident that the court will find no merit to the allegations.”
None of the other officers involved has filed an affidavit.
In the Johnston case, some officers who were charged with misconduct said they lied to get search warrants so they could meet quotas.
Sampson’s suit isn’t the only strip search case. As of last spring the city had spent $770,000 to settle similar suits brought by men who said officers touched them inappropriately while looking for drugs that weren’t found. The five officers Sampson sued also were named in some of those cases.
“It should be noted that APD long ago disbanded the Red Dog Unit (and since) has held training conducted by a nationally-recognized expert on Fourth Amendment issues for all sworn officers, and (APD) will continue to update training on an ongoing basis,” the department said.
Davis wrote in his affidavit that, in cases where arrests were made, officers usually described the strip search in reports reviewed by supervisors. No report was filed about Sampson’s encounter because he was not arrested.
Mayes and Davis said they needed to make their quota — five arrests, one for each member of their team — and that was one of the reasons they stopped Sampson.
“We were encouraged to exceed the quota with the promise to have pizza and even DVD movies waiting for us back at headquarters,” Mayes’ affidavit said, adding officers also could go home early.
APD had many chances to address these problems before they became part of lawsuits, said Cristina Beamud, the former executive director of the Atlanta Citizen Review Board. Beamud said in an affidavit that she told or wrote Chief George Turner several times about reports of strip searches, but never got a response.
“After many years of being involved in police work and oversight,” Beamud wrote her affidavit filed along with the officers’, “I have never seen the administration of a police department or city government be less concerned or responsive regarding an apparent systematic problem of officer misconduct and disregard for the constitutional rights of citizens.”