FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE) — A man was detained by police right outside a Fresno restaurant that opened its doors to the public despite city and state order Sunday morning.
The incident all caught on video and going viral online.
The Waffle Shop opened its doors again for Mother’s Day, after already getting a warning and fine from the city last week.
When city code enforcement stopped by they got some push-back. That’s when Fresno Police got involved.
Police say they were called out to assist code enforcement officers after customers blocked the entrance.
Thom Miller the man that was detained, says he did nothing wrong but exercise his rights.
“We’re standing around talking to some of the other people and they’re saying code enforcement was going to show up and I’m thinking ah who cares, well they did and as they got closer we thought why don’t we stand in the doorway and we did,” said Miller.
The cell phone video shows the crowd surrounding the officer, yelling and cursing at him.
Miller is the man in the video being detained. He says he’s confused why the officer picked him out of the crowd.
“He grabbed my wrist and handcuffed me instantly and I was kind of shocked, I wasn’t expecting it, I didn’t push him, I didn’t touch him, I didn’t do anything,” Miller said.
The video shows the officer pulled out his Taser but Miller says it was never used.
Owner Ammar Ibrahim has racked up $6,000 in fines for opening up his dining room and customers continue to stand by him, even if it involves the police.
“Was there better ways to resolve it, there was, I think code enforcement sending out that many people was more of an intimidation game,” said Ibrahim.
Miller was only detained in the back of a patrol car but quickly released.
He says he respects law enforcement and even praised Fresno Police Chief Andy Hall.
Hall says an internal investigation has been launched and body camera video will be reviewed.
Chief Hall released the following statement:
Fresno Police Chief Andy Hall
“I have been briefed on the incident and have reviewed the video taken by a bystander. I am also in the process of reviewing the officer’s body camera of the incident. As
the Chief of Police, I am concerned over the manner in which this incident was handled as it doesn’t appear to be consistent with our Department’s policy concerning demonstrations or the directions I have given officers via a Chief’s memorandum for handling enforcement of the Emergency Order. I immediately ordered an Internal Affairs investigation of the incident. I would ask for the public’s patience in this matter while the investigation is conducted.”
Fresno Mayor Lee Brand also released a statement:
Fresno Mayor Lee Brand
“This was an unfortunate incident and we are committed to making sure it won’t happen again. I want everyone to know that I fully understand the financial hardship of every small business in Fresno and we are doing everything we can to help them, including a plan to safely restart our local economy. In the meantime, I cannot stress enough to the people of Fresno that following these temporary rules like social distancing and wearing masks are absolutely the best way to get back to normal. Let’s all take a deep breath and then commit to work together to bring our local and state partners in line with our plans to get our people back to work.”
When asked if the Waffle Shop was worth this, Miller said yes.
“I think this whole bologna should be lifted,” Miller said.
Ibrahim says Monday they will be closed so they can do a deep clean of the restaurant. As of right now, he says he’s unsure if he’ll open again this week.