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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

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 457317

Reported Deaths: 6192
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin948721509
Ramsey40815753
Dakota33748357
Anoka31494369
Washington20678239
Stearns18152190
St. Louis14050252
Scott1227999
Wright11850108
Olmsted1089875
Sherburne833070
Carver707039
Clay662184
Rice627375
Kandiyohi560572
Blue Earth550833
Crow Wing491478
Otter Tail465669
Chisago463038
Benton425088
Winona396148
Douglas380966
Mower376829
Nobles375247
Goodhue359864
Polk331060
McLeod329547
Beltrami317348
Morrison314845
Lyon306341
Becker290739
Itasca288643
Isanti286843
Carlton285643
Steele280610
Pine271515
Freeborn255723
Todd233730
Nicollet230939
Brown219434
Mille Lacs216545
Le Sueur215616
Cass211324
Meeker201933
Waseca194016
Wabasha17563
Martin172426
Roseau166717
Hubbard151638
Houston142214
Redwood141727
Dodge14074
Renville139240
Chippewa133432
Cottonwood129618
Fillmore12868
Wadena120918
Rock112512
Aitkin111533
Faribault110616
Sibley11037
Watonwan10738
Pennington101216
Kanabec100218
Pipestone97723
Yellow Medicine95117
Murray9167
Jackson87910
Swift85018
Pope7495
Stevens7078
Marshall70415
Clearwater68814
Lake66515
Lac qui Parle66216
Wilkin63510
Koochiching61010
Lincoln4912
Big Stone4703
Grant4418
Unassigned43668
Norman4268
Mahnomen4177
Kittson37720
Red Lake3224
Traverse2693
Lake of the Woods1991
Cook1160

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 314395

Reported Deaths: 4445
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk47367465
Linn18252280
Scott16058172
Black Hawk14235243
Woodbury13178182
Johnson1238554
Dubuque11743161
Pottawattamie9225115
Dallas920372
Story890538
Cerro Gordo477672
Webster475677
Warren467039
Clinton463768
Sioux461557
Marshall434362
Des Moines399743
Buena Vista398131
Muscatine398079
Wapello355198
Plymouth354270
Jasper335859
Lee330333
Marion313553
Jones276150
Henry270231
Carroll259234
Bremer251448
Crawford236424
Boone225518
Washington225433
Benton215250
Mahaska200437
Jackson196932
Tama192259
Dickinson189629
Kossuth182244
Delaware177736
Clay173921
Fayette168424
Wright167824
Buchanan164024
Hamilton163130
Winneshiek163020
Hardin159531
Harrison159262
Cedar157019
Clayton154749
Butler152824
Page149115
Floyd142436
Cherokee140827
Mills139417
Lyon138733
Poweshiek136724
Hancock133324
Allamakee131630
Iowa129222
Madison126810
Calhoun12439
Grundy123628
Winnebago123429
Jefferson123125
Louisa117531
Mitchell117437
Cass115844
Chickasaw114112
Appanoose113640
Sac113615
Union113123
Emmet111332
Shelby108527
Humboldt107919
Guthrie104824
Unassigned10420
Franklin104118
Palo Alto92611
Montgomery90124
Howard86719
Keokuk86626
Monroe83020
Clarke8239
Pocahontas78811
Ida76930
Monona71218
Davis70721
Adair69920
Greene6997
Lucas67110
Osceola65111
Worth6254
Taylor6069
Fremont5296
Van Buren51015
Decatur5024
Ringgold46611
Audubon4288
Wayne42221
Adams3023
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