The “Atlanta Police Project”
From 2009-2015 a group of colleagues and I worked on a project to improve the Atlanta Police Department through civil litigation with a carefully-selected series of lawsuits. Working with a team of skilled civil rights attorneys (including Gerry Weber, Greg Nevins, and Mark Bullman) we obtained federal court orders imposing numerous procedural reforms and requiring the APD to provide its officers with appropriate and recurring training.
Court Orders Obtained:
- RECURRENT TRAINING: Court-ordered training of all Atlanta police officers, every two years, regarding Fourth Amendment law. (Previously APD training was so lax that dozens of Atlanta police officers lost their arrest powers due to lapses in training; one APD commander testified he had not received any constitutional law training in more than 5 years.)
- RIGHT TO VIDEO/PHOTOGRAPH POLICE: Court-ordered revisions to the APD Standard Operating Procedure, prohibiting officers from interfering with the public’s right to make photographic, video, or audio recordings of police activity in public, and requiring the APD to fire any officer who interferes with the public’s right to record police activity.
- POLICE DESTRUCTION OF VIDEO OR PHOTO RECORDINGS: Court-ordered revisions to the APD Standard Operating Procedure, prohibiting officers from deleting or destroying photographic, video, or audio recordings of police activity and requiring the APD to fire any officer who deletes or destroys any such recording.
- SUSPICIONLESS DETENTIONS AND SEARCHES: Court-ordered revision of unconstitutional written APD policies regarding regarding warrantless searches without probable cause, investigatory detentions and frisks without reasonable articulable suspicion, and warrantless in-home arrests.
- PUBLIC STRIP SEARCHES: Court-ordered revisions to the APD Standard Operating Procedure, prohibiting officers from conducting strip and body cavity searches in public, and requiring that such searches must be performed at a jail or other detention facility by appropriate personnel.
- WARRANTLESS SEIZURES: Court-ordered requirement that APD officers must document certain types of warrantless seizures and ID checks, indicating the specific facts underlying probable cause or reasonable suspicion.
- TIMELY INTERNAL AFFAIRS INVESTIGATIONS: Court-ordered requirement that all Internal Affairs investigations of complaints made by members of the public must be fully adjudicated within 180 days. (Previously some investigations of misconduct were allowed to remain in “pending” status, and therefore unresolved and hidden from public review, for years.)
Please feel free to email me for additional information or for copies of any of these orders.
- Unlawful Arrest
The Atlanta Eagle Raid Cases (Calhoun v. Pennington; Burkes v. Reed; Doe v. Reed). Lead counsel in a series of cases against the City of Atlanta and individual police officers for the unlawful raid of the Atlanta Eagle gay bar in September, 2009, during which all patrons of the bar were detained and searched without any suspicion of criminal activity. Obtained settlements which included significant court-ordered procedural reforms of the Atlanta Police Department and $1,475,000 in damages for the 46 plaintiffs. The plaintiffs allegations of wrongdoing were confirmed by an independent court-ordered investigation that also determined that numerous Atlanta police officers lied and destroyed evidence regarding the raid. The report cost the City of Atlanta an additional $1.2 million dollars. (Co-counsel with Gerry Weber and the Southern Center for Human Rights; Greg Nevins and Beth Littrell of Lambda Legal; and Hollie Manheimer.)
Toliver v. Reed. Represented persons unlawfully detained and searched in the raid of “Ruby’s Sanabella Restaurant & Lounge” in May, 2010, during which officers of the Atlanta Police Department broke down the door of a restaurant without a warrant and detained and searched all persons inside the restaurant without suspicion of criminal activity. Obtained $144,000 in damages for the plaintiffs.
Hereford v. Reed. Represented a man who was handcuffed and transported to a police station for questioning by an Atlanta police officer without reasonable suspicion or probable cause. Obtained a $50,000 financial settlement and the APD reversed its original Internal Affairs decision which had supported the actions of the officer.
Claim of Shequita Walker. Represented a disabled woman who was arrested without probable cause for failing to move from where she was lawfully sitting, and who was injured by the arresting officer. Obtained $90,000 in damages. (Co-counsel with Tiffany Williams.)
Kautz v. City of Atlanta. Represented a member of Copwatch whose iPhone was unlawfully confiscated by an Atlanta police officer after the client video-recorded a police raid. Obtained a settlement which included $40,000 damages and an amendment to the APD Standard Operating Policy prohibiting police officers from interfering with the public’s right to make video, audio, or photographic recordings of police activity. (Co-counsel with Gerry Weber.)
Anderson v. City of Atlanta. Represented a woman who was arrested, and had her cell-phone confiscated and her photos deleted, after photographing officers beating a handcuffed suspect. Obtained a settlement which included $50,000 damages and a court order prohibiting officers from deleting or destroying photo, video, or audio recordings of police activity, and requiring the APD to fire any officer who interferes with the public’s right to record police activity or who deletes or destroys any such recording. (Co-counsel with Gerry Weber and Albert Wan.)
- Unlawful Public Strip Searches by Police
Venegas and Kidd v. City of Atlanta. Represented a driver and passenger who were strip searched by APD officers on a public street after a traffic stop. Obtained $200,000 in damages. (Co-counsel with Mark Bullman.)
Jason Walker et. al v. Reed. Represented several young men who were strip searched by APD officers in public. Obtained $470,000 in damages for the five plaintiffs and court-ordered revisions to the APD Standard Operating Procedure prohibiting officers from conducting strip and body cavity searches in public. (Co-counsel with Mark Bullman.)
Claim of Olajuwan Wilson. Represented a 17-year old who had his genitals touched and was beaten by Atlanta police officers. Obtained $95,000 in damages. (Co-counsel with Mark Bullman.)
- Warrantless Entry into Home by Police
Patterson v. City of Atlanta and Elliott. Successfully represented a family whose rented home was entered without a warrant by an Atlanta police officer at the request of a landlord who wanted to inspect the residence. Obtained $12,000 in damages and an official apology for the officer’s unlawful conduct.