New eyewitness statements put Waffle House's support of the Saraland police officers in question following the arrest of 25-year-old Chikesia Clemons at a Mobile, Alabama, restaurant Sunday, April 22.
An official statement from the company says that Clemons' story differs from that of police. Despite the violent arrest being captured on video which has gone viral, Waffle House issued a statement saying they support how police handled the situation. "After reviewing our security video of the incident and eyewitness accounts, police intervention was appropriate," the statement said.
There were allegations that Clemons was intoxicated and carrying a weapon at the time of the arrest, but new details from eyewitness accounts refute those claims. AL.com reports two witnesses said in their statements that Clemons did not appear to be inebriated, and she was speaking clearly and concisely before and after officers arrived on scene. Police also immediately confronted Clemons as they entered the restaurant, according to them.
"I would have promptly left if there had been a mention of a weapon," said one woman in her statement.
According to a previous report from Blavity, Clemons was arrested around 2:45 a.m. after reportedly engaging in a dispute over plastic utensils with a Waffle House employee.
The victim said that she did not previously have to pay the extra 50 cents for the utensils, and the employee reportedly canceled Clemons' order. Police were called after Clemons asked for the Waffle House district manager's contact information.
In the video captured by friend Canita Adams, Clemons can be heard asking police officers, “What are you doing?” as they slammed her down to the floor. One officer responds, “I’m about to break your arm, that’s what I'm about to do.”
As they tussled on the floor, officers violently pulled on her clothing exposing her. She was left vulnerable and unable to readjust herself.
"They didn't even ask her to leave, she was waiting for them to give her the district manager's card so she could file a complaint on one of the waitresses," Clemons’ mother, Chiquitta Clemons-Howard told AL.com. "When they went to go get the card, that's when the police showed up. The officer should've come in and said we need you to leave."
Following protests of the local restaurant, Adams created a GoFundMe campaign to help with legal fees. Donors helped surpassed the original goal of $10,000 and have donated over $16,000.
The victim was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest, according to CBS News. She's now free on $1,000 bail.
Clemons' arrest highlights a disturbing pattern of acts of physical violence committed by police against black women. These cases rarely receive the national attention -- or outrage -- they deserve, and despite the circumstances that led to the violence in this case, nothing justifies the egregious use of force against Clemons. She deserves better.
We deserve better.