Warsaw, NC – The mayor of Warsaw spoke out in defense of a Warsaw police officer on Friday, after a viral video that showed the arrest of a black man drew allegations of racial bias (videos below).
“I can assure you, this is not a racially-motivated situation,” Mayor AJ Connors, who is black, said in a Facebook video. “This was a young man who had broken the law, and a law enforcement officer arrested him. Unfortunately, physical contact took place because he refused to cooperate or follow or obey the law.”
The incident occurred on May 5, after 22-year-old Anthony Wall got into an argument with some individuals inside a Waffle House restaurant, The Washington Post reported.
Wall said he had just finished taking his 16-year-old sister to prom, and that they stopped to grab a bite to eat, according to WTVD.
Wall said he began arguing with employees at the restaurant, and that the workers contacted the Warsaw police.
A brief video clip obtained by WTVD showed Wall and his sister throwing items and screaming at employees.
“This young man was irate, and doing things and threatening employees,” Connors explained. “He became disruptive. He brought on an issue which...called for an arrest.”
Cellphone footage showed Walls as he fought with a Warsaw police officer outside of the Waffle House.
The offer attempted to restrain Wall from behind, and pressed him against the restaurant window.
Wall yelled at the officer, and was able to spin out of his initial grasp. The officer responded by grabbing Wall’s neck, and he shoved the man against the window once again.
“Get your hands off of me!” Wall demanded, as the officer rotated him backwards and onto the ground.
The man landed just off of the curb, but refused to comply with the officer’s directive to place his hands behind his back, the video showed.
“Get your hands off me!” Wall continued to proclaim.
He was subsequently taken into custody, and was medically cleared before he was transported to the jail, Connors said.
Wall was charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest, WTVD reported.
He claimed that he took full responsibility for his actions inside the restaurant, but argued that the officer’s use of force against him was not justified.
“I was pretty much trying to scream for air and trying to breathe because he was holding my throat and that's when I got aggressive with him because you are choking me," Wall claimed, during an interview with WTVD.
Connors argued that Wall was the one who created the situation, and said the man left the officer with no choice.
“The officer made every effort to secure him, so that the public would be safe,” Connors said in his video statement. “We must understand that this young man had broken the law. He was there, he started a fight, and the officer’s job is to make an arrest if...there’s a reason to. This officer did what he had to do.”
“This is not a racially motivated issue,” the mayor asserted.
“We’re asking you to eliminate the pre-judging, allow the system that is in place to operate and do what it needs to do,” the mayor added. “We ask you to quit calling the police department making threats and calls and tying up the...lines, so the ones that need help are unable to get help as swift as they need.”
In addition to an internal investigation, the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation is also looking into the incident, the mayor said.
Waffle House also released a statement saying that this was not a racial incident.
“We believe there is more to these stories than the short videos that have been posted might suggest,” the company wrote, according to The Washington Post. “Our review of these incidents do not indicate race was an issue in the decision to call the police in either case. Both incidents escalated quickly, and our employees called the police because of safety concerns for their customers and themselves.”
Activists have called for a boycott of the restaurant over claims of racism.
You can see the video :