A 22-year-old man who was choked and body slammed by a police officer during an arrest at a Waffle House has said employees threatened him and called him an anti-gay slur before calling the cops.
His lawyers are calling for an investigation into both the police department and the restaurant chain to look for a pattern of racist and homophobic discrimination.
The incident occurred on the night of May 4, and began when Anthony Wall, his younger sister, whom he had taken to her high school prom, and a group of friends tried to sit down at an uncleared table at a Waffle House in the small town of Warsaw, North Carolina.
An employee allegedly insulted them for doing so. That lead Wall to tell the waiter, who was white, that he couldn’t speak to them that way, according to one of his attorneys, notable civil rights lawyer Benjamin Crump.
The situation then escalated, but Crump told reporters on Monday that “it was the Waffle House employees who were the initial aggressors,” NBC reports.
Wall said he was called a “faggot” and that employees threatened him with physical violence.
Video shows a police officer grab Wall by the neck and throw him to the ground. The video was uploaded to Facebook and has gone viral.
Another video shows Wall with his hands handcuffed behind his back, being led into a police car.
Wall said he was transported by his arresting officer, which he claimed made him fear for his safety. An uncaged dog was allowed to ride alongside him, Wall further alleged, leading his attorneys to request the dashboard footage from inside the car.
Wall was charged with disorderly conduct in public, as well as with resisting, obstructing and delaying a law enforcement officer.
Police Chief Eric Southerland told NBC an officer can use physical force on a subject if the person is not complying, and said an internal investigation is ongoing.
A Waffle House spokesperson said it was investigating the issue internally as well, to determine if disciplinary action was warranted, but said race did not play a factor in the employee’s decision to call police, who it said was also African-American. The company spokesperson also noted Wall told ABC11 he took full responsibility for his interactions with Waffle House employees.
Two incidents at different Waffle House locations in Alabama last month have also made headlines.
In one, an African-American woman was arrested after a dispute over plastic cutlery. She was taken to the ground aggressively by police, causing her breasts to be exposed.
Another African-American woman claims she was denied service because of her race.