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Fort Worth drops charges in gay bar fracas

A 2009 bar inspection at the Rainbow Lounge led to protests and allegations of excessive force. Charges against four patrons are dismissed.

November 21, 2010|By Deanna Boyd, Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Reporting from Fort Worth — More than a year after a controversial bar inspection at the Rainbow Lounge sent protesters to the streets and vaulted the city into the national spotlight, city officials have dropped charges against four bar patrons.

The dismissals came 2 1/2 weeks before Chad Gibson, who suffered a head injury in the June 28, 2009, incident, and George Armstrong had been set to go on trial on public intoxication charges. They had both pleaded not guilty, and Gibson had also pleaded not guilty to assaulting an agent with the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission.

In a statement released Friday, city spokesman Jason Lamers confirmed that the misdemeanor charges against Gibson and Armstrong had been dropped.

Public intoxication cases against Dylan Brown, 24, and Jose Macias, 32, were also dropped. Those cases had not yet been set for trial.

"As it is our official policy not to discuss municipal court prosecutions or litigation, the city will have no further comment," Lamers said.

Adam Seidel, criminal defense attorney for Gibson and Armstrong, said he had received the "welcome news" of the dismissals Thursday in a courtesy call from a court clerk.

Seidel said he had been surprised that the city filed the cases against his clients.

Within hours of the fracas at the Rainbow Lounge, local and national protests erupted as patrons accused the officers of using excessive force and questioned whether the bar was targeted because of its mostly gay clientele.

Investigations by Fort Worth police and the alcohol commission concluded that no excessive force was used. The commission, however, fired two agents who participated and their supervisor, citing policy violations.

Fort Worth Police Chief Jeff Halstead gave three officers one- to three-day suspensions.

The cases against two other patrons arrested on suspicion of public intoxication — Joshua Taylor, 25, and Rene Crosby, 24 — had already been resolved, according to city officials. Taylor pleaded guilty and paid a fine. Crosby's case was dismissed after she completed deferred adjudication probation.

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