No vulgar police singing encounter at Raleigh restaurant, police say
Posted May 3
Updated May 10
Raleigh, N.C. — Raleigh police have determined that a Facebook rumor that employees at a Garner restaurant sang the NWA song "F- the Police" to Raleigh officers last week were false.
The controversy began last week after a Facebook post claimed people at a Smithfield's Chicken 'n Bar-B-Q restaurant sang to officers who were eating at the restaurant.
“There was no singing,” the Raleigh Police Department said in a statement issued Wednesday.
"Two officers witnessed one employee make eye contact with them and mouth the words 'F... the Police,'" the statement continued. “There were no other employees involved. Because of the subtle nature of this act, it was not witnessed by anyone else in the store."
Restaurant owner David Harris responded on Facebook, saying the company respects law enforcement. His lawyer -- Mark O'Mara, who is best known for representing George Zimmerman -- said Wednesday that surveillance video shows an employee near the officers at one point, which is when the alleged incident happened.
"There was no singing, there was no banging on anything, and there were no other employees involved," O'Mara said.
The employee no longer works at the restaurant, O'Mara said.
O'Mara said the officer who saw the employee mouth the words told someone else, who put the story on Facebook. The incident then spiraled out of control from the "embellished" Facebook post, O'Mara said.
"Ultimately, the Raleigh Police Department, Smithfield's Chicken 'N Bar-B-Q and our whole community were victims of misinformation and misunderstanding causing the original reporting of the story to be wrong," the RPD statement said.
"It hurts in the heart, not just in the pocketbook," O'Mara said. "It hurts in the heart."
Harris said the fallout was very devastating.
"My dad taught me to respect everyone in uniform," Harris said. "It's been very emotional, and probably the hardest thing for me to think is there are law enforcement officers who think we allowed or condoned this."
Police union spokesman Rick Armstrong agrees the incident was exaggerated, but still believes something inappropriate happened.
"The officer did tell me, he's a member of ours, that he walked in to Smithfield's and the manager of the establishment did say several times, 'F... the police.' He was very clear about that," Armstrong said.