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Man injured in Fort Worth gay bar raid agrees to settlement

The Fort Worth City Council is prepared to vote on a $400,000 settlement for a patron injured during a controversial bar inspection at the Rainbow Lounge in 2009.
Chad Gibson was injured during the July 2009 raid at the Rainbow Lounge in Fort Worth.

FORT WORTH A patron injured during a controversial bar inspection by Fort Worth police and the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission has agreed to a $400,000 settlement with the city.

Chad Gibson said he was roughed up by TABC agents at the Rainbow Lounge in June of 2009, but that Fort Worth police also were responsible.

Gibson was briefly hospitalized with a head injury. The Fort Worth City Council is scheduled to vote on the agreement next Tuesday.

I think this is totally appropriate, said Jon Nelson of Fairness Fort Worth, a community organization spawned by the incident.

He said a settlement would help Fort Worth avoid an expensive public relations nightmare if it chose to fight the claim in court. Instead, Nelson says, the city has turned a nasty episode into a positive by improving relations with the community of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender citizens.

I think there are better lines of communication that exist today than have ever existed in this city, Nelson said.

He points out that since the Rainbow Lounge incident, Fort Worth passed benefits for same-sex partners, started diversity training, and assigned a police liaison with the gay community.

I'm very happy with what they've done. City Council, police, TABC, said Randy Norman, operations director for the Rainbow Lounge.

Norman said his his business initially dropped following the raid, but now benefits from the exposure. And he says the settlement will have a positive psychological impact on the LGBT community.

Fort Worth police and the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission faced heavy criticism for the bar inspection. TABC fired two agents and three police officers were briefly suspended.

But the city says the settlement ...should not be construed as an admission of liability... and that it is strictly to avoid time-consuming and costly litigation.

Fort Worth city staff also recommends a $40,000 settlement with another Rainbow Lounge patron.

An attorney for the men said settlements are also pending with the TABC.

E-mail jdouglas@wfaa.com