Philadelphia, PA – Philadelphia PD Commissioner Richard Ross released a statement on Saturday with the details behind the now-viral video which shows the arrest of two black men in a Philly Starbucks.
The video (below) was initially posted to Twitter by witness Melissa DePino on Thursday.
In the video, two black males could be seen being calmly arrested at Spruce and South 18th streets.
DePino posted, “The police were called because these men hadn’t ordered anything. They were waiting for a friend to show up, who did as they were taken out in handcuffs for doing nothing. All the other white ppl are wondering why it’s never happened to us when we do the same thing.”
She later followed up in a tweet which said, “Ever since I posted this, I’ve had white strangers AND friends say ‘there must be something more to this story.’ That assumption is a big part of the problem. It does happen. All the time. Just not to you and me. Believe it and speak up.”
However, there was actually more to the story, which DePino was forced to admit after Commissioner Ross released the details.
In a recorded statement on Saturday, Commissioner Ross stated that on Thursday at around 4:40 p.m. police received a 911 call for a disturbance and trespassing at the Starbucks.
When officers arrived, they were met by Starbucks employees who told them that two males were trespassing and refused to leave.
The employees told officers that the two males had come in, sat down, then later decided to use the restroom.
The coffee shop had a policy that only paying customers may use the restroom. The employees asked the men to leave and they refused.
The employees told the men that the police would be called and they said, “Go ahead and call police, we don’t care.”
The officers then spoke with the men and asked them to leave because they were on private property and the employees wanted them to leave, and the men refused.
The officers called for a supervisor so that the situation wouldn’t get out of hand, and on three occasions they politely asked the men to leave.
Instead, the men told the officers that they were not leaving and there was some rhetoric about “you don’t know what you are doing, you’re only a $45,000 per year employee,” or something to that regard, according to Commissioner Ross.
Because the men refused to leave and Starbucks had called them about the trespassing disturbance, the men were arrested for trespassing.
After officers transported the men to be processed, they discovered that Starbucks was no longer interested in pressing charges. The men were then released.
“It is important to emphasize and underscore that these officers had legal standing to make this arrest,” Commissioner Ross said. “Again, they were called to the scene because employees said that they were trespassing. It is important for me to say, in short, that these officers did absolutely nothing wrong. They followed policy. They did what they were supposed to do. They were professional in all their dealings with these gentlemen, and instead, they got the opposite back.”
“I will say that as an African-American male, I am very aware of implicit bias,” the commissioner continued. “We are committed to fair and unbiased policing, and anything less than that will not be tolerated in this department.”
The commissioner went on to explain that every one of these recruits get bias training.
“Something else that I want to highlight…” Commissioner Ross added. “I can tell you that there was a case involving one of our sergeants, probably a couple years ago, who went to Starbucks in full uniform and he was also denied access to the restroom. So they are at least consistent in their policy.”
“These officers did absolutely nothing wrong, and did a service that they were called to do,” the commissioner concluded. ” And if you think about it logically, that if a busienss calls and says that ‘someone is here that I no longer wish to be in my business’, [the officers] now have a legal obligation to carry out their duties, and they did just that.”
After the police commissioner’s statement, DePino admitted that she left some details out of her story. She posted, “Yes, the two men were asked to leave
Starbucks responded with an apology and said that they will be reviewing their store policies.
You can see the video of the incident below: