Philadelphia's top cop apologizes to black men arrested at Starbucks

Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross apologized Thursday to ...

Posted: Apr 19, 2018 10:47 PM
Updated: Apr 19, 2018 10:47 PM

Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross apologized Thursday to two black men who were arrested while waiting for a business meeting at Starbucks, saying he made the situation worse by initially defending his officers' actions.

Ross' apology came at a news conference on the same day the men -- Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson -- told ABC's "Good Morning America" they were handcuffed within minutes of arriving at the store April 12 for a business meeting.

Ross said he was not aware that Starbucks allows people to sit in stores without making a purchase.

"I can appreciate, in light of the Starbucks policy and how well known it is to many, why these two men were appalled when asked to leave and for this reason, me, I apologize to them," Ross told reporters.

A store manager called police and said the two men were sitting in the store without placing an order. They were arrested for trespassing. The person the men were waiting for arrived as they were being arrested.

After a Twitter video emerged of the men being escorted out in handcuffs, Ross initially said the officers "did absolutely nothing wrong."

"For starters, I should have said the officers acted within the scope of the law and not that they didn't do anything wrong," Ross said Thursday. "Words are very important."

The commissioner said new policy guidelines will be unveiled soon on how officers should respond to similar calls.

Nelson and Robinson told ABC they went to Starbucks for a business meeting they believed would change their lives.

Instead, they walked out in handcuffs shortly after Nelson asked to use the restroom. He was told it was only for paying customers. A white store employee called 911 minutes later.

"The issue of race in this situation is not lost on me," said Ross, 54, who is black.

"The optics are not lost on me. It is obvious the issue of race is indicative of a larger problem in our society, and I should not at all be the person that is a party to making anything worse relative to race relations. Shame on me if in anyway if I have done that. ... I have to do better."

No charges were filed against the men. The video of the incident went viral and ignited protests and calls for boycotts.

"I was thinking, they can't be here for us," Robinson said of the police. "It didn't really hit me what was going on, that it was real, till I was being double-locked with my hands behind my back."

On Monday, the two men met with Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson, who apologized.

An attorney for the two men told "Good Morning America" that Starbucks has agreed to a proposal to enter into mediation with a retired federal judge.

The store employee who called 911 is no longer with the company. Starbucks has not said under what circumstances the employee left.

Starbucks plans to close its 8,000 company-owned stores in the United States for one afternoon on May 29 to teach employees about racial bias. The training will be provided to about 175,000 workers.

Ross said he does not believe race played a role in the officers' actions but added, "As for that manager, that's a whole other ballgame."

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 115763

Reported Deaths: 3263
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds7973177
DeSoto703979
Harrison522384
Jackson457884
Rankin394086
Madison383194
Lee357380
Forrest304678
Jones292484
Washington258399
Lafayette250443
Lauderdale2478135
Lamar225538
Oktibbeha202454
Bolivar201677
Neshoba1849111
Lowndes179962
Panola170040
Leflore167187
Sunflower162349
Warren154855
Monroe150673
Pontotoc147220
Marshall143129
Lincoln140157
Pike138456
Copiah137536
Scott125429
Coahoma124937
Grenada122638
Yazoo122234
Simpson121549
Union118825
Tate116839
Leake115041
Holmes114760
Itawamba113925
Pearl River113660
Adams108544
Prentiss106120
Wayne101722
Alcorn100112
George99218
Covington97527
Marion95042
Tippah90322
Newton86627
Chickasaw85526
Tallahatchie84526
Winston84121
Hancock84028
Tishomingo81241
Attala79426
Clarke75851
Clay69321
Jasper68717
Walthall63927
Calhoun62612
Noxubee59817
Smith59416
Montgomery54923
Yalobusha54514
Claiborne53716
Tunica53517
Lawrence51814
Perry49423
Carroll49312
Greene47818
Stone47514
Humphreys43816
Amite42513
Quitman4206
Jefferson Davis41011
Webster37613
Benton3416
Wilkinson33820
Kemper32615
Sharkey28514
Jefferson27610
Franklin2423
Choctaw2086
Issaquena1074
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 158701

Reported Deaths: 2680
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson23292377
Mobile16916315
Tuscaloosa10345140
Montgomery10250197
Madison935096
Shelby739063
Baldwin665869
Lee654665
Calhoun459961
Marshall439550
Etowah428551
Houston417034
Morgan416435
DeKalb342629
Elmore320853
St. Clair295542
Limestone287230
Walker279492
Talladega266435
Cullman248024
Lauderdale229442
Jackson215915
Autauga205931
Franklin205531
Colbert202132
Russell19493
Blount193225
Chilton188432
Dallas186627
Coffee177111
Dale176351
Covington174729
Escambia172730
Clarke135217
Chambers135044
Pike134113
Tallapoosa132987
Marion108129
Barbour10339
Marengo101922
Butler101140
Winston92913
Geneva9067
Lawrence85832
Pickens85218
Bibb84014
Randolph82716
Hale76830
Washington74912
Clay74412
Cherokee73814
Henry7176
Lowndes71328
Bullock64917
Monroe64610
Crenshaw60830
Perry5926
Fayette57713
Cleburne5698
Wilcox56812
Conecuh56113
Macon53620
Lamar4965
Sumter47221
Choctaw39212
Greene34216
Coosa2043
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