Anthony Wall’s night started at the prom with his sister, followed by a stop at a Waffle House in Warsaw, North Carolina. While at the restaurant, he got into a heated argument with employees, who called the police.
It’s unclear what happened moments before the confrontation Saturday, but cell phone video widely shared on Facebook showed an officer putting his hand around Wall’s neck and shoving him up against a glass wall as he tries to arrest him.
Wall screams, “Get your hands off me!” as the officer throws him to the ground and handcuffs him.
Police and the State Bureau of Investigation are investigating the incident.
Warsaw police Chief Eric Southerland declined to name the officer but said he responded to the restaurant for a fight in progress.
Wall had just come from the prom as a date for his 16-year-old sister, CNN affiliate WTVD reported. He was charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.
A second video posted by the TV station shows Wall and his sister, still in her prom dress, yelling in the restaurant.
“We are looking into the incident … to gather all the facts,” said Pat Warner, a spokesman for Waffle House. “Initial reports say the customer became agitated, and the police were called.”
Wall said he takes full responsibility for his interaction with Waffle House employees but added he felt the officer used excessive force.
“I was pretty much trying to scream for air and trying to breathe because he was holding my throat. That’s when I got aggressive with him because you are choking me,” he told WTVD.
Three weeks earlier, police wrestled a black woman to the ground at a Waffle House in Alabama, leaving her breasts exposed during the scuffle.
“We’re once again outraged by a video showing police officers using excessive force on an unarmed, nonviolent African-American Waffle House customer,” said Sherrilyn Ifill, president of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund.
“Once again this incident was sparked when a Waffle House employee called the police after the patron allegedly complained about customer service. And once again the police responded with violence.”
In the incident in Saraland, Alabama, a woman questioned why she was charged extra for plastic utensils, Ifill said. The customer got into an argument with employees, and the situation spiraled out of control after police were called, the NAACP official said.
Police, citing statements from Waffle House workers and a customer, offered a different account.
They said the woman was with two others, and one of them brought in a drink from outside. After a worker told them to get rid of the drink, the group yelled profanities at employees and threatened violence, police said.
Among the threats: That one of them “might have a gun,” and that one would “come over this counter and beat your f****** a**,” police said.
Police said the woman resisted arrest.
Waffle House said it reviewed security video and believes police intervention was appropriate, CNN affiliate WKRG reported. Police said that after watching the video and reading witness statements, they will not take action against the officers.
Ifill is urging Waffle House to review and overhaul its policies to ensure employees do not subject customers to unnecessary police contact and brutality.
The incident drew comparisons to last month’s arrest of two men at a Philadelphia Starbucks as they waited for a friend to arrive. After that incident, Starbucks plans to shut down its stores for a day later this month to train employees on racial bias.
By Faith Karimi and Jamiel Lynch, CNN