Mayor defends Warsaw PD in Waffle House arrest

By Barry Merrill

Tribune Publisher

An argument between a Warsaw Waffle House employee and an African-American customer has led to allegations of racial discrimination and excessive force against the town’s police department by the restaurant chain. The town’s African-American mayor isn’t buying it.

Warsaw Mayor A.J. Connors, a Baptist minister, contacted the Mount Olive Tribune last week after a firestorm of calls growing out of the arrested man’s Facebook video post and regional and national television coverage of the allegations.

“We had 1,000 calls yesterday, from as far away as Hawaii, some threatening,” said the mayor Friday. “We couldn’t hardly get to calls from local residents.”

The incident was Friday, May 4 at about 11:30 p.m. as a Fayetteville man had taken his sister to a prom at Union High School. The man, Anthony Wall, got into an argument with an employee, and was asked to leave. Warsaw Police were summoned.

The officer involved allegedly asked the customer to leave, and when he refused, was told he would be charged with disorderly conduct and placed under arrest. He refused to submit to arrest, resisting the officer.

Mayor Connors said he has viewed the video of the initial confrontation with the officer. In his opinion, the young man was clearly in violation of the law, and clearly resisting the officer. The confrontation got very physical.

The arrested man has made allegations that he was not resisting and the officer choked him. Mayor Connors said in the video he watched the officer’s hand slip from the offender’s shoulder to the neck, but from his perspective, he was not choking him, based on the defendant not exhibiting signs of choking.

“The officer was reacting as he was trained to do in a very difficult situation,” the mayor concluded.

“Every arrest is not about race,” the African-American mayor stated.

The mayor made his own Facebook post on the incident.

The NAACP has made allegations that Waffle House employees lack training on how to deal with customers, and have called for a boycott of the chain after a similar incident at another Waffle House recently, and in the aftermath of apologies by Starbucks regarding a racially charged incident in Philadelphia.

Mayor Connors said that videos of the incident are being reviewed by the SBI to determine if the officer used excessive force during the arrest.

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