Waffle House says there’s more to the story of a viral video of a police officer choking a man in a tuxedo outside its location in Warsaw, North Carolina and that the employees’ decision to call the police wasn’t a “race” “issue.”
In a video posted May 8, a Warsaw police officer is seen choking 22-year-old Anthony Wall of Fayetteville, at the Waffle House he visited with his 16-year-old sister after taking her to prom.
Wall said he and his sister argued with Waffle House employees. After an employee cursed at Wall and his group for sitting at a table that wasn’t cleaned yet, a waitress called the police, Wall said.
The 32-second video does not show what led up to Wall holding his hands up before the police officer chokes him and slams him to the ground.
In a statement referring to the incident in Warsaw and a previous incident in Alabama, where Chikesia Clemons was violently thrown to the ground by police officers in April, Waffle House defended the decision of its employees to call the police.
“Our review of these incidents do not indicate race was an issue in the decision to call the police in either case,” at Pat Warner, a Waffle House spokesperson, said to The Fayetteville Observer.
Warner referenced Wall’s admission of his interaction with Waffle House employees before his arrest and Clemons’ threat to Waffle House employees that she might return with a gun and “shoot this place up.”
“Both incidents escalated quickly, and our employees called the police because of safety concerns for their customers and themselves,” Warner wrote.
“We train our employees to call the police whenever they feel in danger, or if they feel their customers are in danger.”
The mayor of Warsaw, A.J. Connors, said Friday that Walls’ arrest wasn’t related to race.
Connors said in a video statement on Facebook that Wall started a fight at the restaurant and need to be arrested.
"...we must understand that this young man had broke the law. He was there, he started a fight," Connors said. "An officer’s job is to make an arrest if they see fit or there’s a reason to. This officer did what he had to do to make sure.
"Now I want the public to understand that this is not a racially-motivated issue. This was just a young man who had broken the law, and a law enforcement officer arrested him. And unfortunately physical contact took place because he refused to cooperate or follow the — or obey the law. "
Mayor Connors said Wall became “disruptive” at the restaurant and when the police officer arrived he was "irate and doing things and threatening employees."
The police officer attempted to get Wall to go outside, Connors said.
“He put up a struggle and eventually he was brought outside, gotten outside and in the midst of things more physical contact took place," Connors said.
In the video, Wall can be heard demanding the officer's supervisor.
The Warsaw Police Department has received phone calls and social media messages, some of which are threats against the police officer in the video, said Glenn Barfield, an attorney representing the department and the officer.
“A 32-second excerpt from a bystander cellphone video of an incident that was 5-10 minutes long, edited to that 32 seconds, in my view, for maximum dramatic effect, making it look like an innocent man being jumped, essentially, by a police officer because of a verbal disagreement,” Barfield said.
The officer has not been suspended, Barfield said.
Wall said he was charged with resisting arrest and disorderly conduct for arguing with the Waffle House employees.