Taxpayers in Atlanta could be responsible to pay a hefty fine if the city agrees to pay a claim of more than $140,000 for a botched police raid.
City leaders discussed the claim during a City of Atlanta Public Safety Committee meeting Tuesday afternoon.
The raid, which happened in May 2010, occurred at Ruby's Sanabella Restaurant and Lounge after an officer said he saw liquor being served after hours.
But the restaurant's attorney, Dan Grossman, said it was what happened next that could cost the city all that money.
"(The officer) busted a door off the hinges without a crow bar, without a search warrant, and then they came in and detained and searched... took ID's from everyone in the restaurant, even people who were not suspected of any crime," Grossman said.
Grossman said the Atlanta Police officer who raided the restaurant was not within their rights to search the customers.
"Unless police suspect you as an individual of a crime, they can't interfere with your liberty in any way through detention, search, seizure, ID check, or anything else and there were people at Ruby's not suspected of a crime who had that all happen," Grossman said.
The situation at Ruby's wasn't the first time the Atlanta Police Department has come under fire for raids gone bad.
In 2011, six Atlanta police officers were fired stemming from a raid at the Atlanta Eagle bar. In that case, Atlanta Police Chief George Turner said the officers violated the department's truthfulness policy, and a settlement of $1 million was reached.
During Tuesday's committee meeting, Councilman Michael Bond said this should be one of the last incidents where Atlanta police didn't have adequate training.
"Now all of the officers are supposedly trained in greater detail on how to go on to these properties and maintain the constitutionality of what they are doing," he said.
In a statement from Mayor Kasim Reed's office, spokesman Reese McCranie said the Atlanta Police Department had been undergoing reforms to prevent similar situations from occurring again.
That statement read:
"Please know that this event occurred before the Eagle Bar settlement and as a result, there have been numerous reforms at APD including the revision of the police department's standard operating procedures and additional training in several, important procedural areas including search and seizure."
CBS Atlanta News contacted the Atlanta Police Department for comment on the pending settlement, but officials would not comment because the officer involved in the raid was still under investigation.
The full city council will still have to approve the settlement next Monday, which would pay out $18,000 to eight plaintiffs.
Copyright 2012 WGCL-TV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
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