A video that has gone viral—and sparked protests—shows three white police officers wrestling a black woman to the ground at an Alabama Waffle House during a scuffle that left her breasts exposed.
The 25-year-old woman, Chikesia Clemons, was arrested at the restaurant by Saraland police on Sunday after an employee called the cops on her during a dispute about plastic utensils, AL.com reported. A video of the incident appears to show two officers throw Clemons to the ground as they try to make an arrest. Her breasts became exposed in the tussle, and at one point, another officer placed his hand on the woman’s neck.
Waffle House spokesperson Pat Warner said in a statement Sunday evening that the company is “still obtaining and reviewing information” about the incident.
“[I]t’s fair to say that the information we have received at this point differs significantly from what has reportedly been attributed to Ms. Clemons and strongly supports the actions taken by the Saraland Police Department,” Warner said.
Before the altercation, a Waffle House employee reportedly told Clemons she would have to pay an extra 50 cents for plastic utensils with her order. The woman said she wasn’t charged for utensils at a nearby Waffle House and asked for a manager’s contact information, Chiquitta Clemons-Howard, the woman’s mother, told AL.com. The staff did not ask Clemons to leave and simply called the cops instead, according to Clemons-Howard.
Clemons was arrested for disorderly conduct and resisting arrest, according to AL.com. “The officer should’ve come in and said we need you to leave,” Clemons-Howard insisted.
Video of the the officers’ encounter with Clemons appears to show one cop holding the woman’s arm while she’s sitting down in the restaurant. “You’re gonna [sic] go to jail,” the officer told Clemons after she asked to speak with another cop.
The clip, captured by Canita Adams, then cuts to two officers pushing Clemons down on the ground, causing her breasts to become exposed. It’s unclear who initiated the scuffle, and whether Clemons’ top was pulled off by one of the officers or fell on its own.
“I’m about to break your arm,” an officer said, before a third officer grabbed Clemons by the neck. Clemons at one point exclaimed: “You’re choking me!”
At the end of the video, an officer looked toward the camera and asked Adams, “Do you want to come fix her clothes?”
The Saraland Police Department is investigating the incident, according to a statement released on Sunday evening. “Our department strives for transparency and we encourage our community to be aware of current events.”
“When the facts of the investigation are gathered, we will have a response,” the statement added. The Saraland Police Department did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The Mobile NAACP protested outside of the Waffle House Sunday afternoon. The chapter’s president blamed the officers’ actions on racial bias.
Earlier this month, two black men were arrested at a Starbucks in Philadelphia after a store manager called the cops when they refused to leave. The men said they were waiting for a friend to arrive.
“In light of the current situation in our country—such as the arrest of two young black men at a Philadelphia Starbucks coffee shop—we felt it was important for our members to get a first-hand account of the incident, which has now gone viral on social media locally and across the country,” Mobile NAACP President David Smith said.