Philadelphia's top cop apologizes to black men arrested at Starbucks

Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross apologized Thursday to ...

Posted: Apr 19, 2018 10:47 PM
Updated: Apr 19, 2018 10:47 PM

Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross apologized Thursday to two black men who were arrested while waiting for a business meeting at Starbucks, saying he made the situation worse by initially defending his officers' actions.

Ross' apology came at a news conference on the same day the men -- Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson -- told ABC's "Good Morning America" they were handcuffed within minutes of arriving at the store April 12 for a business meeting.

Ross said he was not aware that Starbucks allows people to sit in stores without making a purchase.

"I can appreciate, in light of the Starbucks policy and how well known it is to many, why these two men were appalled when asked to leave and for this reason, me, I apologize to them," Ross told reporters.

A store manager called police and said the two men were sitting in the store without placing an order. They were arrested for trespassing. The person the men were waiting for arrived as they were being arrested.

After a Twitter video emerged of the men being escorted out in handcuffs, Ross initially said the officers "did absolutely nothing wrong."

"For starters, I should have said the officers acted within the scope of the law and not that they didn't do anything wrong," Ross said Thursday. "Words are very important."

The commissioner said new policy guidelines will be unveiled soon on how officers should respond to similar calls.

Nelson and Robinson told ABC they went to Starbucks for a business meeting they believed would change their lives.

Instead, they walked out in handcuffs shortly after Nelson asked to use the restroom. He was told it was only for paying customers. A white store employee called 911 minutes later.

"The issue of race in this situation is not lost on me," said Ross, 54, who is black.

"The optics are not lost on me. It is obvious the issue of race is indicative of a larger problem in our society, and I should not at all be the person that is a party to making anything worse relative to race relations. Shame on me if in anyway if I have done that. ... I have to do better."

No charges were filed against the men. The video of the incident went viral and ignited protests and calls for boycotts.

"I was thinking, they can't be here for us," Robinson said of the police. "It didn't really hit me what was going on, that it was real, till I was being double-locked with my hands behind my back."

On Monday, the two men met with Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson, who apologized.

An attorney for the two men told "Good Morning America" that Starbucks has agreed to a proposal to enter into mediation with a retired federal judge.

The store employee who called 911 is no longer with the company. Starbucks has not said under what circumstances the employee left.

Starbucks plans to close its 8,000 company-owned stores in the United States for one afternoon on May 29 to teach employees about racial bias. The training will be provided to about 175,000 workers.

Ross said he does not believe race played a role in the officers' actions but added, "As for that manager, that's a whole other ballgame."

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

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Reported Deaths: 8049
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Hennepin1396591852
Ramsey58216942
Dakota51771493
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Washington30460309
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Scott19489144
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Mower551838
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Goodhue546180
Douglas530084
Itasca512870
Beltrami496972
Steele496321
McLeod495262
Isanti487170
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Polk428275
Becker427459
Freeborn426438
Lyon390654
Carlton387259
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Brown343543
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Martin259033
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Houston201616
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Lincoln6424
Norman6319
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Cook2060

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

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Cases: 426400

Reported Deaths: 6339
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk67341672
Linn25698353
Scott22828261
Black Hawk19121334
Woodbury16940233
Johnson1659690
Dubuque14547218
Pottawattamie13058183
Dallas12746102
Story1187148
Warren685993
Webster6304102
Cerro Gordo6212102
Clinton620097
Des Moines594482
Muscatine5781108
Marshall564280
Sioux542775
Jasper516575
Lee511078
Wapello4993128
Buena Vista472942
Marion449083
Plymouth434083
Henry339940
Jones331158
Bremer325365
Crawford321644
Carroll317053
Washington315754
Benton312656
Boone308736
Mahaska275453
Dickinson270846
Kossuth251471
Jackson246044
Clay245729
Tama238273
Delaware234643
Buchanan233938
Hardin230847
Page221624
Cedar220525
Fayette220345
Wright217641
Winneshiek215937
Hamilton211752
Harrison198875
Clayton194458
Madison193820
Butler188836
Floyd187742
Mills185224
Poweshiek181036
Cherokee179440
Iowa176425
Allamakee176252
Lyon174441
Jefferson169138
Calhoun168313
Hancock167335
Winnebago164231
Grundy158835
Cass155556
Louisa154949
Shelby151739
Appanoose151249
Emmet149541
Franklin148524
Humboldt147226
Sac144722
Union144237
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Ida107538
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Pocahontas99023
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Worth9268
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