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Texas ABC fires 2 agents and their boss over raid at Fort Worth gay bar

The Alcoholic Beverage Commission agents were part of a raid at the Rainbow Lounge that led to clashes with hundreds of patrons on the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall raid in New York.

August 29, 2009|P.J. Huffstutter

FORT WAYNE, IND. — The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission said Friday it has fired the two agents, as well as their supervisor, who took part in this summer's raid of a Fort Worth gay bar that resulted in law enforcement clashing with hundreds of patrons and leaving one man hospitalized with a serious head injury.

Agent Christopher Aller, who had been with the commission for five years, and agent trainee Jason Chapman, hired April 1, were terminated as of Friday over the raid at the Rainbow Lounge.

Their supervisor, Sgt. Terry Parsons, was not at the bar during the incident and had earlier announced plans to retire.

His termination will be effective Wednesday, according to a statement by the agency.

None of the men could be reached for comment.

The June 28 bar raid fell on the 40th anniversary of the police raid on New York's Stonewall Inn, an event often regarded as the launch of the modern gay rights movement.

Aller, Chapman and seven officers from the Fort Worth Police Department tangled with about 300 bar patrons during the raid.

Seven people at the bar were arrested, and witnesses said agents slammed one man's head into a door.

Officials had said that the raid was to ensure the bar wasn't serving underage patrons and to stop potential drunk drivers.

The firings come three weeks after the Texas liquor board released an internal affairs report finding that Aller and Chapman violated a number of policies.

The violations included taking part in an operation without approval, failing to report use of force against patrons, failure to report that a patron was injured, and disrupting business.

According to that report, Aller admitted to investigators that he may have violated agency policies, but said, "I hope I'm not the scapegoat for some things."

The Texas agency is continuing to investigate the matter: A separate report on the agents' use of force at the bar is expected to be released later this year.

The Fort Worth Police Department is still finalizing its internal report on the incident, Sgt. Pedro Criado said Friday.

Earlier this month, Police Chief Jeff Halstead told the Fort Worth City Council that a "flawed policy" led to the incident and that new departmental rules were being put in place.

Halstead, who reportedly told the council that his department will continue such bar checks to combat drunk-driving problems, said his agency's final report on what happened at the Rainbow Lounge could be complete by October.

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p.j.huffstutter@latimes.com

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