Mid­town leg­end

Will Ba­ton Bob sue At­lanta po­lice?

GA Voice - - Front Page -

by DYANA BAGBY

In­fa­mous At­lanta street char­ac­ter Ba­ton Bob is ready to sue the At­lanta Po­lice Depart­ment, al­leg­ing his con­sti­tu­tional rights were vi­o­lated af­ter he was ar­rested in June and then co­erced into mak­ing a Face­book post to his 5,000 fans that the po­lice treated him well af­ter he was taken into cus­tody.

Ba­ton Bob, whose real name is Bob Jamerson, was ar­rested on June 26 at Colony Square in Mid­town, hours af­ter the his­toric rul­ing by the U.S. Supreme Court strik­ing down a ma­jor por­tion of the De­fense of Mar­riage Act. He was charged with two counts of sim­ple as­sault and one count of ob­struc­tion of a po­lice of­fi­cer.

Af­ter the ar­rest and while in cus­tody, Ba­ton Bob, who is gay, was able to get on Face­book and send a mes­sage to his ap­prox­i­mately 5,000 fans to say he was treated with re­spect by the APD.

How­ever, Ba­ton Bob now says he was ac­tu­ally co­erced by the APD to make the pub­lic state­ment.

Crim­i­nal de­fense at­tor­ney Joshua Brown­lee, who is straight, took the case on pro bono af­ter read­ing about it in the me­dia. He said he wants the city to ei­ther apol­o­gize and drop the charges against Ba­ton Bob or face a civil law­suit.

“The po­lice co­erced him into mak­ing a Face­book state­ment while he was in cus­tody. No­body I know has ever seen any­thing like this be­fore,” Brown­lee said. He said this re­minded him some­what of what hap­pened with the At­lanta Ea­gle raid in 2009 when of­fi­cers busted into the gay bar and forced some 60 plain­tiffs to the floor. The APD’s ac­tions were found to be un­con­sti­tu­tional by a fed­eral judge.

“I think they still be­lieve they think they can do a spit and pol­ish to cover up a cul­ture of cor­rup­tion against the LGBT com­mu­nity,” Brown­lee said.

When asked for a com­ment, an APD spokesper­son said the in­ci­dent is cur­rently be­ing in­ves­ti­gated.

“Un­for­tu­nately I am un­able to com­ment on this in­ci­dent at this time as our Of­fice of Pro­fes­sional Stan­dards in­ves­ti­gates th­ese al­le­ga­tions,” said Sgt. Greg Lyon.

CON­TRO­VER­SIAL AR­REST

A po­lice re­port states Ba­ton Bob was “dis­turb­ing” se­cu­rity guards at 1197 Peachtree St. on June 26. The al­leged vic­tims were two women se­cu­rity guards who com­plained to po­lice that Ba­ton Bob fre­quents Colony Square “and causes a dis- tur­bance daily.” The po­lice re­port goes on to state Ba­ton Bob was at the cor­ner of Peachtree Street NE and 14th Street NE “danc­ing and gy­rat­ing in a sex­ual man­ner on the city side­walk block­ing pedes­trian traf­fic.”

Then, when an At­lanta Po­lice of­fi­cer ap­proached Ba­ton Bob, the street char­ac­ter, well known for his salty lan­guage, said to him, “Fuck you, what’s this about,” states the re­port.

Ba­ton Bob scuf­fled with the of­fi­cer and then, ac­cord­ing to the re­port, he kicked the of­fi­cer’s leg and at­tempted to kick him in the groin. Af­ter Ba­ton Bob was fi­nally cuffed, the re­port states he told the fe­male se­cu­rity guards, “fuck you, bitch” and also called the the po­lice of­fi­cer a “black bitch,” the re­port states.

The ar­rest­ing of­fi­cer, H.J. Davis, states in the re­port that Ba­ton Bob soon had a com­plete change in de­meanor and “con­tin­ued to apol­o­gize and stated he was thank­ful for how re­spect­ful I was. When the sus­pect ar­rived at the precinct he was even more co­op­er­a­tive and con­tin­ued to apol­o­gize.”

While in cus­tody at the precinct, Ba­ton Bob posted to his Face­book fans that he was treated with noth­ing but re­spect by the APD.

“First of all, the atl po­lice of­fi­cer that re­sponded to the in­ci­dent thru se­cu­rity has been very re­spect­ful and gra­cious to me even in hand­cuffs ... I want to ver­ify, that the At­lanta po­lice was re­spect­ful to me con­sid­er­ing the cir­cum­stances,” he posted.

Two months later, in Au­gust, Ba­ton Bob took to Face­book again and said he was co­erced into mak­ing that Face­book post on June 26 while in cus­tody.

Ba­ton Bob said he dic­tated to the ar­rest­ing of­fi­cer a post to his Face­book page.

“I was taken to precinct #5, and put in a swivel chair in the lobby with my hands hand­cuffed be­hind me. The ar­rest­ing of­fi­cer came over and I asked him what I was charged with? He said, ‘this could have been dif­fer­ent’.

“Other of­fi­cers came by and asked, ‘what is he do­ing here?’ One of the other of­fi­cers in the precinct poked his head out and said, ‘the story is on the AJC’s web­site, al­ready’; even be­fore I was booked! the ar­rest­ing of­fi­cer had calmed down by now, and said there had been a lot of bad ar­rest in the past, and he asked me; if I would make a state­ment on my Face­book page say­ing, they treated me, ok. I sat in that swivel chair, a black gay man, in cos­tume with my hands hand­cuffed be­hind my back; and I sur­ren­dered. I didn’t want con­fronta­tion, I just wanted to re­gain some of the pride, that was taken; that day! With­out my at­tor­ney, and with­out Mi­randa be­ing read to me; I made a Face­book post to my 5000 fans, in the precinct, typed by the ar­rest­ing of­fi­cer, as I dic­tated to him; on his com­puter.”

But many have grown skep­ti­cal of Ba­ton Bob af­ter a hate­ful Face­book rant on the Fourth of July against a “white les­bian bitch.”

“I want say this, to the white Les­bian Bitch that rolled upon my ASS, about a friend of hers that wanted a photo in mid­dle of my per­for­mance that ‘s suf­fer­ing from Can­cer, and I stated that, I don’t do posed pho­tos in the mid­dle of my per­for­mance;......be­came in­dig­nant to me !!!!!...... FUCK YOU BITCH!!!!....I said NO,..... and, I meant IT,...... BEACHICH!!......GET THE FUCK OVER IT!!!!!.... DON’T IM­POSE UPON ME,.....THAT WAY!!!!!.....ALL I”M SAY­ING!!”

Brown­lee said he un­der­stands why so many are up­set with his client af­ter that anti-gay and racist spiel. But, he added, that doesn’t ex­cuse the At­lanta Po­lice Depart­ment from al­legedly vi­o­lat­ing his con­sti­tu­tional right to not say any­thing that may hurt his de­fense.

“Part of my frus­tra­tion is with me­dia,” Brown­lee said, who de­clined to al­low Ba­ton Bob to be in­ter­viewed in per­son for this story.

“Peo­ple have not paid at­ten­tion [to] the civil lib­erty vi­o­la­tions but in­stead to the con­tro­ver­sial char­ac­ter. What­ever he has done, he didn’t de­serve to be treated like that by the po­lice,” Brown­lee added.

Po­lice can­not co­erce sus­pects to give up their Face­book pass­word and con­fess to a crime on a per­sonal page to 5,000 friends, Brown­lee ex­plained.

Brown­lee said he and Ba­ton Bob want the APD to apol­o­gize and drop the charges or face le­gal ac­tion.

Of course, when the At­lanta Ea­gle plain­tiffs in 2009, rep­re­sented by at­tor­ney Dan Gross­man, asked for an apol­ogy rather than fil­ing a law­suit, Mayor Kasim Reed said no. That case re­sulted in the city pay­ing out more than $3 mil­lion to the plain­tiffs as well as an in-depth in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the po­lice depart­ment’s ac­tions, sev­eral of­fi­cers be­ing fired, an over­haul of the APD’s stan­dard op­er­at­ing pro­ce­dures — and, even­tu­ally, an apol­ogy by Reed to the first round of Ea­gle plain­tiffs.

“Our main ob­jec­tive is not money nor is it to de­stroy the APD. Our ob­jec­tive is to clear Bob of the crim­i­nal charges and en­sure the APD un­der­stands they can’t vi­o­late con­sti­tu­tional civil lib­er­ties to cover up mis­takes made by their of­fi­cers,” Brown­lee said.

an in­fa­mous At­lanta street char­ac­ter, is threat­en­ing to sue the city of At­lanta al­leg­ing his con­sti­tu­tional rights were vi­o­lated when he was forced to post to Face­book the At­lanta po­lice treated him with him re­spect af­ter he was ar­rested in June. (File photo)

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