Saraland, Ala., police are standing by the officers who were seen on video aggressively wrestling a seemingly unresisting black woman at a local Waffle House over the weekend.
As AL.com notes, during a press conference Monday, investigators showed video evidence and described witness testimony to justify the officers’ use of force. That being said, the video testimony included limited camera angles from inside the chain and did not show the actual altercation that ended on the floor with Chikesia Clemons being exposed, as the news site notes.
Among the evidence displayed at the news conference was the initial 911 call that a Waffle House employee made after Clemons and two others entered the restaurant. The caller, identified only as Ally, said that three people had walked in with alcohol and were acting “drunk and disorderly,” and as a result were asked to leave.
Other evidence included three videos showing different camera angles from inside the Waffle House. AL.com notes that there are four cameras in that particular location, but it was not clear where the fourth camera was pointing and whether it was relevant to the officers’ investigation. None of the videos contained audio or showed the final arrest.
The video shows Clemons and two other people walking into the Waffle House and sitting in a booth.
“The situation then escalated between the patrons at that table and the employees,” Detective Collette Little of the Saraland Police Department said at the press conference. “At this point, the employee has asked the patrons to leave the establishment, which the first female and gentleman does.” The first woman was identified as Canita Adams. After talking with a Waffle House employee, Clemons also left.
The women, however, soon returned.
Witnesses told police that the two women started shouting abuse at the employees at the Waffle House upon their return.
“Words were used toward the employees such [as] ‘fuck,’ ‘bitch,’ calling women whores,” one Detective Mims, who declined to give his first name, said. “They were told to cool down and stop using the profanities.”
Mims said that according to witnesses, Clemons and Adams then told employees: “I’ll come over this counter and beat your fucking ass, bitch. I’m gonna have your job; you ain’t gonna be here tomorrow.”
Another witness claimed that one of the two women threatened to come back and “shoot this place up if I need to.”
Two of the witnesses were black and four were women, Mims noted. All of the witnesses confirmed that the three people in the group seemed drunk and smelled of alcohol when they arrived. Mims also said that witnesses claimed that arresting officers tried to calm Clemons down and asked her to comply with instructions, but “she refused to comply,” he said.
Investigators also showed an image of Clemons being sick in a bucket at the police station at the press conference.
Mims confirmed that an employee and Clemons initially clashed over a policy to charge customers 50 cents for dine-in plastic utensils, but the employees ended up providing the utensils free of charge.
Mims refuted accusations that the encounter was racist or a case of police brutality, emphasizing that no further action would be taken against the three officers involved in the arrest.
“It was based solely on the fact that they were asked to take their beverages out and not consume them on the premises, per Waffle House’s policy,” he said.
The Police Department also declined to name the officers involved, saying that their personal safety outweighed public interest. Officer safety was also the reason more than one officer was present during the arrest.
The department claimed that it tried to reach out to Clemons and Adams to get their side of the story but could not reach them.
Clemons ended up being charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. Her two companions were not charged.
And yet, as allegedly belligerent as Clemons and her friend were, I am still trying to figure out what led to her being dragged to the ground like that and left exposed. Maybe she was drunk, maybe she was screaming insults—all of that doesn’t explain why, even as she kept her calm, officers continued to grapple with her.
At one point in a video taken by Adams, Clemons can be heard asking almost calmly, “What are you doing?”
“I’ll break your arm, that’s what I’m about to do,” an officer can be heard saying.
When asked about that particular response, Little brushed it off: “The statement was made as cause-and-effect statement rather than a threat.”
Well, I guess that explains it all, doesn’t it?