A veteran police officer fired for allegedly lying about what transpired in the September 2009 raid of a Midtown gay bar has won his appeal to be reinstated with back pay.
Fulton County Superior Court Judge Kelly Lee ruled that the Civil Service Board lacked sufficient evidence to uphold the dismissal of Atlanta police Sgt. Willie Adams, a former supervisor of the disbanded Red Dog Unit.
“They treated this guy like a child molester,” said Adams’ attorney, Mary Huber. “There was no reason at all he should’ve lost his job.”
The botched raid, in which 25 officers from the Red Dog and vice units stormed into the Atlanta Eagle on Ponce de Leon Avenue, ordering everyone to the floor and allegedly using anti-gay slurs, cost taxpayers more than $1 million and led to significant reforms within the APD.
Adams was one of six officers fired in July 2011 for violating the department’s “truthfulness” rule. The review board concluded that the 20-year APD veteran offered contradictory statements about whether he witnessed patrons being patted down. The board also found that Adams lied when he told investigators he instructed his officers to allow the patrons to sit up.
But Lee found no evidence to support either claim, ordering that Adams — now working for the Clayton County Sheriff’s Department — be rehired as a sergeant with partial back pay and benefits.
In a statement, the Atlanta Law Department said it plans to appeal the judge’s ruling. They have until May 1 to do so. Huber said it could be another year — if not longer — before the city’s appeal is heard.
“This feels like another slap in the face from the system,” Eagle co-owner Richard Ramey told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “Trustworthiness is an important part of that job. Any police officer who lies to the higher-ups shouldn’t be able to get his job back.”
Huber said Adams is “happy he won but sad that city is apparently going to appeal.”
Police said they went to the Eagle that night because of reports that men were engaging in sex acts as others watched. The charges against the eight people arrested during the warrant-less raid were eventually dropped or dismissed.
More than a year later, the city settled a federal civil rights lawsuit with the bar’s owners and 26 patrons for $1.025 million.
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