Fayetteville man's lawyers to investigate Waffle House after police choking incident
A nationally known civil rights lawyer said Monday that he wants to investigate Waffle House after a Fayetteville man was choked and thrown to the ground outside one of the chain's restaurants.Posted — Updated
Benjamin Crump said Anthony Wall, 22, was mistreated by Waffle House employees in Warsaw before police were called to the restaurant on May 5. Wall, who had taken his little sister to her prom that night and was wearing a tuxedo, was subjected to homophobic slurs by staffers, his attorney said.
"We're here to investigate whether the Waffle House Corporation has a pattern and practice of discrimination based on race and sexual orientation," Crump said at a news conference.
Crump also is representing a woman who was at a Waffle House in Alabama last month when police allegedly assaulted her.
"There are several other instances ... all over America where people of the African-American community have been harassed and assaulted and disrespected by the Waffle House Corporation," he said, noting some patrons have been forced to pay for food in advance or pay to use plastic utensils.
Waffle House officials couldn't be reached Monday for comment.
Wall said he was defending his sister and her friends from a negative comment from a Waffle House worker when an argument started.
"These are people that was trying to throw things at me. These are people that threatened me," he said.
"It was the Waffle House employees that were the initial aggressors," Crump said. "It was the Waffle House employees that were unprofessional toward their customers."
In 911 calls released Monday, a woman who identifies herself as a Waffle House employee tells a dispatcher that "there is a customer starting a fight in the middle of the restaurant." A loud commotion can be heard in the background of the call as the employee says "please, don't let him go," to someone else in the restaurant.
In a second 911 call, a woman tells a dispatcher that there were at least 20 people fighting inside the restaurant before police arrived.
Wall was charged with disorderly conduct because of his actions inside the restaurant and was charged with resisting arrest in connection with his encounter with Warsaw Officer Frank Moss, which was captured on cellphone video.
Wall said his hands were in the air and he wasn't resisting when Moss grabbed him by the neck, choked him and slammed him first into a window and then onto the ground.
He said he was put into a patrol car with a K-9 even though there were four other patrol cars at the scene, and the dog managed to get loose and began snapping at him.
"He doesn't seem to be a threat to this officer ever, but yet he is brutalized and excessive force is used against him," Crump said. "The mass murderer who went into the Waffle House in Tennessee and killed four people, the police seemed to have given him more respect and consideration than they gave Anthony Wall."
The Duplin County District Attorney's Office is reviewing the case to determine if Moss used excessive force to make the arrest. Moss is on administrative duty pending the outcome of that investigation.
Crump and Raleigh attorney Allen Rogers, who also represents Wall, said they want to review footage from Waffle House's security cameras and the body-worn cameras worn by the Warsaw police officers who responded to the restaurant. Rogers said he also is looking into Moss' law enforcement record and any previous use-of-force and discrimination complaints involving the Warsaw Police Department.
"It is very important that Mr. Wall's matter isn't swept under the rug and then we see an unknown Mr. Wall from the gay and lesbian community discriminated against next month," Crump said.
Crump is best known for representing the family of Trayvon Martin, who was killed in an Orlando, Fla., suburb in 2012 by George Zimmerman, who said he was on neighborhood watch that night. Crump also has represented the family of Michael Brown, who was killed by police in Ferguson, Mo., in 2014.
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