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Texas liquor board fires 3 over raid on gay bar

Texas' liquor board fired two agents and a supervisor and disciplined two other supervisors over a raid at a gay bar that left a customer with a serious head injury, officials announce.
/ Source: The Associated Press

Texas' liquor board fired two agents and a supervisor, disciplined two other supervisors and changed several policies in the wake of a raid at a gay bar that left a customer with a serious head injury, officials announced Friday.

The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission said agent Christopher Aller and agent trainee Jason Chapman, who participated in the June 28 raid at the Rainbow Lounge, were fired Friday. Their supervisor, Sgt. Terry Parsons, was not at the Fort Worth bar that night but also was fired, effective Sept. 2.

Aller and Chapman failed to report that they used force when arresting the customer or that he was seriously injured, according to a report on the agency's investigation released earlier this month. They also were accused of participating in the raid without their supervisor's approval, disrupting the business during the raid and wearing improper attire, the report states.

Parsons failed to ensure that the agents submitted a report on using force during the arrest, did not take appropriate action after learning they didn't wear proper attire during the raid and did not notify supervisors that multiple arrests had been made that night, the report states.

The commission said Parsons' direct supervisor, Lt. Gene Anderson, would be suspended without pay for three days and be on probation for six months for his lack of monitoring the training of new agents and inadequate oversight of his employees and their activities.

Also, Capt. Robert "Charlie" Cloud, who oversaw the Dallas and Fort Worth TABC offices, has received a written reprimand for not following the incident notification policy, inadequately monitoring new agents' training and inadequately supervising Fort Worth employees and their activities, the agency said.

In announcing the disciplinary actions Friday, the agency's chief of field operations, Joel Moreno, said he was confident that Anderson and Cloud could make the necessary improvements.

"The first step is by working more closely with their employees, mentoring them and serving as positive role models by exemplifying the agency's four cornerstones: service, courtesy, integrity, and accountability," Moreno said in a statement. "It is essential that every employee understands our core value: We do the right thing, not what we have the right to do."

TABC Administrator Alan Steen, who will make the final decision on any appeals, was not available to comment Friday, agency spokeswoman Carolyn Beck said.

The five may protest their disciplinary actions by submitting a written grievance in the next 10 working days.

Aller, who had worked for the agency for five years, and Chapman, who was hired in April, had been on desk duty during the investigation. Parsons had planned to retire Sept. 2 after completing 20 years with the agency but had been using vacation time.

Another sergeant will be transferred from the Fort Worth to the Dallas office next week "for the betterment of the agency and to create change in the office," but that is not considered disciplinary action, Beck said.

Aller and Chapman accompanied six Fort Worth police officers on a raid of the Rainbow Lounge in what police initially billed as a routine liquor license inspection for a new business. Six people were arrested for public intoxication, and one patron, Chad Gibson, was hospitalized with a severe head injury he suffered while in the agents' custody, the agency and police have said.

Gibson was hospitalized for a week but has said he has a blood clot behind his right eye.

Since the raid, the agency has changed several policies — including how it uses force in certain situations — and is shortening agents' shifts, increasing cultural diversity training and reviewing the agent trainee field training program, Moreno said. Many of those changes were in the works before the raid, Beck said.

"Most of these were not as a direct result of this incident, but we hope they will prevent a similar incident from happening," he said Friday.

A report addressing whether the agents' use of force was appropriate during the raid is expected to be released in September.