Once again Waffle House is at the center of a dispute with Black customers after a man and woman were handcuffed by police for disputing their bill.
This time, police were called to a Florida Waffle House when a black couple asked for clarity on a $27 food bill that they claimed should have been $18 bucks, reports the New York Times.
While the police in Fort Walton Beach, Florida were forthcoming with its own body camera footage of the interaction, they were combative in their response about the series of events arguing that there was “no misconduct” by the police officers which led to the couple having a taser pulled on them and handcuffed.
“A cell phone video has recently been circulating on Facebook regarding an incident that occurred at a local restaurant on May 2nd, 2018. Our officers responded to 318 Miracle Strip Parkway, SW, at 0129 hours in reference to a disorderly incident between staff and a customer. So we feel it is important to set the record straight and have attached a link below of the officer’s body worn camera, where citizens can view the video in its entirety. The Fort Walton Beach Police Department conducted a full review of the incident and the actions our officers took that evening. Video from the officer’s body worn camera was reviewed in its entirety and conveyed our officers followed proper protocol when dealing with violations involving Florida State Statues.
“The cell phone video being shared only shows a small part of the incident and does not include that the individuals detained were released after the situation calmed and the bill in question was satisfied – which is what the officers were trying to achieve from the beginning. We met with other interested parties in regard to this matter and all parties involved determined that while there was no misconduct of the officers that the situation could have been handled differently by both parties involved. The Fort Walton Beach Police Department strives to provide superior police services to all citizens and uses opportunities such as this to learn and refine our interactions with the public.”
Waffle House also tried to offer their own statement and pledged to offer “additional training” in customer service to employees at the restaurant. Pat Warner, a spokesman for the chain wrote:
“While our review of the Fort Walton Beach, Fla., incident is continuing, we think both sides could have handled this situation better,” he said. “On our part, our employee could have done more to de-escalate the dispute before calling the police.”
The contentious relationship between the restaurant chain and Black customers came to a head in recent weeks as calls for a boycott of the breakfast chain escalated following several high-profile racist incidents.
According to reports, Walter G. Ehmer, the Waffle House chief executive, called on Thursday to apologize to the woman and they said the couple received a refund of their meal the following day.
The couple said they went to the Waffle House in the wee hours of the morning around 1:30am. The disagreement started when they questioned prices on their receipr like a $2.50 glass of orange juice when they were initially told it would be $1, they said.
Overall, they were disputing the $27 bill, which they said should have been $18. Thing escalated and the couple recorded cell phone video of the heated exchange with a white Waffle House employee.
On the video the white employee says in the video, the couple “kept yelling and arguing and saying no” and “being belligerent.”
The police were called in.
“If you don’t pay your bill, you’re going to jail,” one officer states, adding that the man could be charged with theft.
“I’m willing to pay my bill, I’m trying,” the man says. “I’m sitting here adding my bill up, ‘How is my bill this high?’”
The officer aimed his Taser at the black man and handcuffed him and put him in a police cruiser. The woman was then handcuffed.
The man and woman were eventually released, and the bill was paid. The police officer then told the man he should never return to Waffle House.