Philadelphia police chief defends his officers, says they 'did nothing wrong' in Starbucks arrest

Philadelphia police chief defends his officers, says they 'did nothing wrong' in Starbucks arrest

Officers received a trespassing call from Starbucks after two men allegedly used the restroom without making a purchase, which goes against company policy

Philadephia's police commissioner on Saturday defended his officers after two black men were arrested from a Starbucks outlet, after staff members called on the authorities against the men for "trespassing."

The chain and the cops came under fire after a video of the Thursday incident went viral.

Philadelphia Police Department Commissioner Richard Ross claimed in a video posted to Facebook that authorities received a trespassing call from the outlet after the two men reportedly used the toilet without making a purchase, violating company policy while doing the same, reported Fox News.

Ross said that the men were asked thrice by responding officers to leave. However, they were subsequently detained after they refused to listen to the authorities and were ultimately released after the company decided not to pursue charges.

“The police did not just happen upon this event, they did not just walk into Starbucks to get a coffee,” he said. “They were called there, for a service, and that service had to do with quelling a disturbance, a disturbance that had to do with trespassing."

The commissioner asserted that his officers were simply enforcing the company's rules and did what they were expected to do.

"These officers did absolutely nothing wrong" and were professional in their conduct toward the individuals but "got the opposite back," he said.

Being a black man himself, Ross claimed that the department makes sure that officers receive "implicit bias training" for such situations.

"I will say, that as an African-American male, I am very aware of implicit bias," Ross says in the video. "We are committed to fair and unbiased policing and anything less than that will not be tolerated in this department."

"If a business calls and they say that 'someone is here that I no longer wish to be in my business,'" the officers have "a legal obligation to carry out their duties and they did just that," he added.

He said that there was once a case in which a Philly officer who went to Starbucks was denied access to the restroom to relieve himself although he was in full uniform at the time.

"They are at least consistent in their policy," Ross said.

The footage showed at least six officers putting the two black men in handcuffs and taking them into custody without any resistance. The said video of the incident went viral on Twitter and garnered over 9 million views as of Sunday afternoon.

Kevin Johnson, the CEO of Starbucks, said that he wants to personally apologize to the men in a statement released on Saturday. He added the company "stands firmly against discrimination or racial profiling."

That being said, Johnson's statement did not address what actually led to the police call. However, a spokeswoman for Starbucks expounded that the store was simply implementing company policy which states that restrooms were available to paying customers only. The video which went viral does not show any Starbucks products in front of the two men who were arrested.

The CEO said that the coffee giant's practices and training had led to a "bad outcome" and that it was incorrect to bring in the police to the shop for the said reason.

"Our store manager never intended for these men to be arrested and this should never have escalated as it did," said the statement. Johnson said videos of the arrest were "very hard to watch," and the company was investigating.

"We also will further train our partners to better know when police assistance is warranted," said Johnson. "Additionally, we will host a company-wide meeting next week to share our learnings, discuss some immediate next steps and underscore our long-standing commitment to treating one another with respect and dignity."

Comedian Kevin Hart, who is a native of Philadelphia, responded to the incident amid widespread outrage that spread across social media.

"Message to the @Starbucks in Philadelphia...Our city is shining bright like a diamond right now. Please make this situation right. I repeat please make this situation right!!!!!!! Once again MAKE THIS RIGHT," he tweeted Sunday.

Hart also questioned as to why the two black men were arrested for such a mild issue in the first place.

"@Starbucks in Philadelphia I have watched the video and do not see these to young men doing anything wrong....Unless there is footage that shows otherwise you need to do what's right and handle the manager that was on duty accordingly," Hart said.

Bille Jean King called the whole affair "deeply troubling." The Tennis icon's organization - the Billie Jean King’s Leadership Initiative - recently partnered with Starbucks to support "global gender pay equity."

"The arrest of 2 African-American men in a Philadelphia @Starbucks is deeply troubling," she said on Twitter. "This event is not representative of how Starbucks operates. Kevin Johnson’s apology & actions are a good 1st step. An investigation will follow, and we should give them the time to do it."

According to FOX29, the Starbucks store was flooded with protesters who gathered outside on Sunday in solidarity with the two men who were arrested.

Jim Kenney, the mayor of Philadelphia, has since ordered the city’s Commission on Human Relations to review Starbucks’ company policy, reported Fox News.

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