After the Fort Worth police and the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission staged a widely criticized raid of the Rainbow Lounge last June, authorities from both organizations admitted wrongdoings that resulted in the firings of three TABC officers and a rewriting of the rules regarding nightclub raids. But despite all of that and an abject apology to the gay community from the mayor of Fort Worth, police are pressing charges against two of the victims of the raid, including the man who suffered a severe brain injury at the hands of sheriff's deputies.
The police slammed one of the patrons, Chad Gibson, to the ground, and he suffered a brain injury that almost killed him. Shortly after the raid, while Gibson was hospitalized with a life-threatening blood clot in his brain and unable to come to his own defense, Fort Worth police chief Jeff Halstead went to the press and claimed that Gibson, and other men in the bar, "touched" his officers and that he was "happy with the restraint [his officers] used when they were contacted like that."
Or as I translated the chief's remarks at the time: "Them faggots in that thar bar touched mah officers and now they're complainin' about some rough stuff and one little ol' faggot with a brain injury? Those perverts should be grateful they're alive."
One of the things that made the raid on the Rainbow Lounge so outrageous was the police chief's transparent use of the gay panic defense. His officers were touched! By a gay man! OF COURSE THEY BEAT THE SHIT OUT OF HIM! But Gibson and other eyewitnesses denied that anyone touched anyone and credible eyewitnesses backed him up:
"They were hyped up. They were loaded for bear," said Todd Camp, a veteran journalist who was there celebrating his birthday with friends. "They were just randomly grabbing people, telling them they were drunk." Camp told me he has been in bars during TABC/police "checks" before, "and it was never anything like this." Usually, he said, officers discreetly walk through, looking for anybody who has had too much. This was different. "They were shoving patrons," Camp said, "asking, 'How much have you had to drink?'" ... "[Gibson] was taken down hard," said Camp, with "four or five" officers wrestling him to the floor inside the club. Cellphone photos shot by patrons and posted to blogs show a person being held facedown by officers in a short hallway inside the club, then show a dent in the wall where his head was apparently banged.
And now Gibson and another patron at the Rainbow Lounge—victims of police brutality—have been charged with assaulting police officers. Both men rightly refused a plea deal and they're going to trial and they're going to win and here's hoping that they sue the fucking pants of the city of Fort Worth when this is all over.