New York, NY – A police sergeant who was badly hurt trying to remove an emotionally-disturbed man from a Starbucks has filed a lawsuit against the coffee company.
New York Police Department (NYPD) Sergeant Tim Wall said he has responded to that Starbucks location more than 30 times for a variety of problems, including one instance where homeless people were urinating on the staff from the upper level of the coffee shop, according to WCBS.
Sgt. Wall, 33, said the Midtown Starbucks regularly gave free food to emotionally-disturbed homeless people who squatted in their restaurant.
He said the coffee shop, located at 39th Street and 8th Avenue, regularly called police about disorderly men, drug use in the bathroom, and assaults in the café.
The sergeant, a-10 year veteran of NYPD, said he warned them for more than a year that they needed to change their policy about giving away the free food to emotionally-disturbed people or someone was going to get hurt, but the employees ignored the officer’s recommendation, WCBS reported.
He said he’d even offered suggestions for a safer way for the employees to feed the homeless.
On Sept. 28, 2017, Sgt. Wall responded to the Starbucks for a call about a “disturbed and violent individual” who was unhappy with the free croissant he’d been given by an employee and had been making threats.
“He said he wanted to kill everyone at the location,” Sgt. Wall told WCBS. “He went to grab the bag stating he was going to kill everyone… We didn’t know what was in the bag, so we couldn’t take the risk.”
The 24-year-old homeless man resisted arrest, and was combative with officers. In the process of taking him into custody, Sgt. Wall’s shoulder was popped out of the socket and stayed that way for 45 minutes, WCBS reported.
Although he’s had surgery, and does physical therapy three times a week, Sgt. Wall said he was still in constant pain.
“I tore my labrum and I have seven anchors in my right shoulder,” the sergeant said.
Sgt. Wall’s lawsuit alleged that Starbucks’ negligence resulted in his injury, WCBS reported.
Starbucks said the sergeant’s injuries were a result of “culpable conduct” and “assumption of risk.”
The coffee company also said no free food had been given away prior to the incident, which conflicted with information provided in the call to police for assistance in removing the man from the café that day.
The man who injured Sgt. Wall was arrested that day, but released soon thereafter.
He was recently arrested in a Starbucks in connection with a string of burglaries, WCBS reported.
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The announcement of the lawsuit was especially interesting on the heels of the Starbucks debacle involving the arrest of two black men at a Starbucks in Rittenhouse Square in Philadelphia.
Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson made PR announcements about apologizing to the men, who said they were waiting for a business associate when police asked them to leave the restaurant because they hadn’t purchased anything.
Johnson will shut 8,000 stores for a day to train his employees on unconscious bias.
His broad and very public statements have made it clear that in the future, police should not be called to remove anyone from a Starbucks, anywhere, ever again unless it was a very extreme situation.
Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross apologized to the men and the entire city for not understand that “everybody knew” that you didn’t have buy something to stay in a Starbucks all day long, something that not everybody does know.
Commissioner Ross announced that a new policy was going into effect that would ensure police “don’t get manipulated by any employee into extracting anyone from a business that shouldn’t be.”
Two men who were arrested will receive paid college educations and an undisclosed financial sum from Starbucks, the company announced on Wednesday.
In addition to the financial settlement, Starbucks said they would have “continued listening and dialogue between the parties and specific action and opportunity,” The Washington Post reported.
In an agreement with the city, separate of the payday from Starbucks, the city of Philadelphia agreed to pay Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson $1 each, and granted their request that the city provide $200,000 in funding to assist the city’s young entrepreneurs, FOX News reported.
The men will not receive any money from the grant, which was described as being a “pilot program for city public high school students with aspirations of becoming entrepreneurs,” city officials said in a statement, according to FOX News.
The city also agreed to have Nelson and Robinson involved in the development of a committee that would distribute the grant funds, and asked the men and their attorneys to submit ideas to the city solicitor regarding other ways Philadelphia could promote equality, The Washington Post reported.
“Messrs. Nelson and Robinson have decided not to pursue a lawsuit against the City,” the statement read, according to FOX News. “Instead, they approached the City and agreed to release the City and its employees from any and all claims for a payment of $1…to each of them.”
Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney said he was glad to have the potential lawsuit resolved.
“Rather than spending time, money, and resources to engage in a potentially adversarial process, Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson approached the City and invited us to partner with them in an attempt to make something positive come of this,” Kenney said on Wednesday.
According to ABC News, the men’s fully-funded college education opportunity will be provided through Starbucks’ partnership with Arizona State University.
“We thought long and hard about it, and we feel like this is the best way to see that change that we want to see,” Robinson said of the settlements. “It’s not a right-now thing that’s good for right now, but I feel like we will see the true change over time.”