Authorities are defending the use of force in the arrest of a woman in a Saraland, Ala., Waffle House, video of which spread across the nation Sunday and Monday.
"The facts as we understand them at this point, I believe they speak for themselves,” Saraville Mayor Howard Rubenstein said, according to Lagniappe Mobile. “I remain totally supportive of our officers and the Saraland Police Department.”
Outrage spread across the country after Canita Adams, of Saraland, posted video of officers wrestling her friend Chikesia Clemons to the ground in a Waffle House, causing the top of her dress to slip down and expose her chest.
Clemons’ mother Chiquitta Clemons-Howard told AL.com an argument began after a female employee told her daughter that plastic silverware cost 50 cents extra, and that Clemons told the employee they had eaten there a previous night and not been charged.
Clemons-Howard told the site the employee canceled her daughter’s order and Clemons then asked for a district manager’s phone number, after which police were called.
"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-Howard told the site. "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."
Police say that's not exactly what happened.
Instead, police say three people, including Adams, Clemons and an unidentified male, entered the restaurant with what they believe was an open alcoholic beverage, then refused to leave when told they couldn't drink it inside, according to AL.com.
Detective Mims said there was a dispute over the charge for plastic utensils, but that the restaurant "did provide the utensils before they took their order and they were not going to be charged for it," according to the Washington Post.
At a press conference, police played audio of the 911 call they say was made out of the restaurant, Fox 10 reported.
"They came in with alcohol and we told them that they couldn't drink it and they are not listening, they're drunk and disorderly and I was told to call," the caller said, according to the station.
Police say the group left, but then Adams and Clemons came back in and began yelling at employees.
Police interviewed six witnesses, two of whom were black and four of whom were female, Lagniappe Mobile reported.
Based on the witnesses' testimony, Detective Brian Mims said, according to Fox 10., "Words were used towards the employees such as f***, b*****, calling women wh****. They told the Waffle House employees that I'll come over this counter and beat your f****** a**, b**** I'm gonna have your job, you ain't gonna be here tomorrow. Why you was in my business? I may have a gun, I may have anything, I can come back here and shoot this place up if I need to."
In the video, which was edited by news outlets, a police officer, who is white, appears to put his hand on Clemons' right wrist as she sits in a chair near the exit. Clemons can be heard protesting, saying she only asked for the corporate number.
Clemons was then thrown to the ground, AL.com reported. The video shows the officers trying to roll her onto her stomach. Part of her dress slips down in the scuffle, exposing her chest.
What are you doing?" she asks, before an officer says something about her arm.
"You're about to break her arm?" Clemons' friend says. Police said this was a "cause and effect" statement, not a threat, AL.com reported.
Police continue to struggle to roll her onto her stomach before the video cuts to show two officers holding her down and one officer handcuffing her.
“Do you want to come fix her clothes?” an officer asks Adams before the video ends.
Police said they followed standard procedure and asked several times for Clemons to comply with instructions before using force to move her arms behind her back, Lagniappe Mobile reported.
AL.com reported that Clemens was arrested for disorderly conduct and resisting arrest, and posted a $1,000 bail later that morning. Adams created a GoFundMe page "raise money for legal fee and lawyers" in reference to the incident.
Waffle House tweeted a statement on Monday that the company was still learning about the incident, but 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."
Some officials are saying police could have handled the situation better.
"It's unacceptable. It should be a teachable moment," Prichard city councilman Lorenzo Martin told Fox10.
"I'm concerned just like everybody else and it pained me to see that video it was very painful," Saraland city councilwoman Veronica Hudson said, according to NBC 15. "I just would like to see as a female and maybe they can't do that but just being sensitive to us as females and how they make arrests."