A New York Police Department officer is suing Starbucks, saying the coffee chain's policy of giving free food to homeless people led to an injury that could end his career as a police officer, WCBS-TV reported.
Sgt. Timothy Wall is a community affairs officer, and his role is to advise local businesses on ways to reduce crime. Now, he claims Starbucks is legally liable because of their failure to heed his warnings.
"They call us for help, and when we gave them advice, they brushed it aside. It went in one ear and out the other," Wall told the New York Post.
There is a particular Starbucks location in New York City that Wall said is known for being the source of complaints of harassment.
Wall said officers are often called to the Starbucks in response to assaults or reports of people doing drugs in the bathroom.
The location, according to Wall's lawsuit, also has a policy of giving free food items to people who are homeless and often emotionally disturbed, and Wall said he warned managers in the past that the policy was going to cause problems, potentially even injury to someone.
Wall said he has tried to convince Starbucks managers that there are other, safer ways to give food to people in need, saying there was a "time and a place to do it" rather than just handing food over on location.
In September, Wall was called to the location because a a 24-year-old homeless man, who had apparently become upset over a free croissant he received, was threatening customers and employees.
"He said he wanted to kill everyone at the location," Wall told WCBS. "He went to grab the bag stating he was going to kill everyone ... we didn't know what was in the bag, so we couldn't take the risk."
Wall dislocated his shoulder trying to restrain the man, and it stayed out of socket for about 45 minutes. It took surgery to repair it, and he is still in physical therapy and suffering from pain.
His injuries are so severe that the 33-year-old said he may be forced to retire. He's currently on restricted duty, working in an office role.
What about the lawsuit?
Wall is suing on the grounds that Starbucks was negligent in not ending the free food policy that created the situation leading to his injury.
Starbucks, according to court documents, denies that free food was provided in the incident and said that has nothing to do with what happened.
"The food donation program described in the complaint does not exist," a Starbucks spokesman told the Post.
WCBS reports that Starbucks blames Wall's injuries on culpable conduct and assumption of risk.