RAW: Atlanta Police Chief Addresses Red Dog Probe
Turner spoke to Channel 2 Action News reporter Eric Philips after the meeting. Philips was the first reporter to investigate the victims' claims and began piecing together the story after two men came forward and complained about possible officer misconduct during a June traffic stop on Fulton Street.
"There's a lot of stuff that's happening around that unit. I thought it was the right thing for me to do ... just bring them together and let them know what was happening," Turner said.
Atlanta police are currently conducting an internal investigation into the accusations.
"We're very close to concluding the investigation," Turner said. The three officers involved have been placed on administrative duty pending disciplinary decisions.
When asked whether he planned to disband the Red Dog unit, which has been under scrutiny before, Turner responded: "No. I've not made that decision."
In an exclusive interview with Philips, the passenger in the car said members of the Red Dog unit pulled over his friend's vehicle and forced the driver, Shawn Venegas, to pull down his pants on the side of the road in broad daylight. He says officers conducted a body cavity search for drugs on Venegas. No drugs were ever found, passenger Brian Kidd said.
"They went to his bottom part. That's as low as you can go. I don't think anybody should be subjected to that kind of search," Kidd said. "I had to look away because I couldn't watch my friend be done like that."
Kidd told Philips that an officer also reached down his pants searching his private parts for drugs.
Venegas said he was so traumatized by the incident that he moved to another state.
"I feel molested, and I feel like I was raped," Venegas told Philips in a phone interview.
"There's absolutely no justification under these or any other circumstances even, if they had shown any kind of resistance to the officers, to make Shawn take his pants and underwear down in the middle of a city street," attorney Mark Bullman said.
Turner said he is taking the allegations seriously.
"They can be assured that we're going to do everything we can to get to the truth," said Turner.
Two of the three officers involved in the stop were also named in the infamous Atlanta Eagle bar raid that the city recently settled. Co-counsel on the traffic stop case, Dan Grossman, was the lead attorney in the Atlanta Eagle case.
"I've heard many stories from citizens who were stripped in public by Red Dog," Grossman said.
WSB-TV Brian Kidd Brian Kidd On Thursday, Atlanta police spokesman Carlos Campos e-mailed a statement to Channel 2 in response to the accusations.
"The Atlanta Police Department is in the process of concluding the internal investigation into this matter. There is evidence to suggest that some of the officers' actions during this traffic stop were inappropriate," Campos said. "As a result, Chief Turner intends to move swiftly to discipline some of the officers with actions - up to, and including, dismissal."
According to the department's website, the Red Dog unit's mission is to provide a police presence in areas where drug sales and drug-related activities are prevalent.
"The Atlanta Police Department expects its officers to be truthful at all times, to follow all policies and procedures and to follow all of the local, state and federal laws they are sworn to uphold. Failure to do so will not be tolerated," Campos said.