North Carolina officials are hitting back at claims that an officer's arrest of a 22-year-old black man was racially motivated.
What's the background?
Police have been investigating a viral video featuring a Warsaw, North Carolina police officer choking and slamming a young black man up against a wall last week at a Waffle House after he'd taken his 16-year-old sister to prom.
The young man, 22-year-old Anthony Wall, was still wearing his tuxedo during the arrest, which saw Wall wrestled to the ground.
Initially, reports indicated that Wall had gotten into an argument with Waffle House staff, and as a result, the establishment called the police.
Last week, Wall told WTVD-TV, “I was pretty much trying to scream for air and trying to breathe because he was holding my throat and that’s when I got aggressive with him because you are choking me.”
He added that despite taking full responsibility for his actions inside the Waffle House, he did not feel his behavior warranted being manhandled by the officer.
“Your hands should have never been around my neck like that if my hands were in the air,” Wall added.
After the video made its rounds on the internet, many social media users — including Martin Luther King Jr.'s daughter — called for a boycott of the Waffle House for calling the police on Wall over his purported actions.
Police charged Wall with resisting arrest and disorderly conduct after the incident.
What's being said now?
Warsaw Mayor A.J. Connors said that the arrest was not motivated by race, and the officer involved in the arrest did not use excessive force.
"I can assure you, this is not a racially motivated situation," Connors said in a Friday Facebook video. "This was a young man who had broken the law, and a law enforcement officer arrested him. Unfortunately, physical contact took place because he refused to cooperate or follow or obey the law."
The mayor added that it was Wall who had "brought on the issue."
"The young man came into the township of Warsaw, went into a restaurant, he became disruptive, he brought on the issue, which called for an arrest," he said. "This young man was irate and doing things and threatening employees."
According to Connors, Wall also started a fight prior to police arrival at the Waffle House.
Connors noted that when law enforcement did arrive, Wall refused to cooperate.
"The officer made every effort to secure him so that the public would be safe," Connors explained. "Also, we must understand that this young man had broke the law. He was there, he started a fight and an officer’s job is to make an arrest, if they see fit or there is a reason to."
Connors said that the township is imploring the public to "eliminate the pre-judging" and "allow the system that is in place to operate and do what it needs to do."
"We ask you to quit calling the police department making threats and calls and tying up the ... lines, so the ones that need help are unable to get help as swift as they need," he added.
Connors revealed that the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation is also investigating the incident.
The Washington Post published a statement from the Waffle House on Friday.
We believe there is more to these stories than the short videos that have been posted might suggest. Our review of these incidents do not indicate race was an issue in the decision to call the police in either case. Both incidents escalated quickly, and our employees called the police because of safety concerns for their customers and themselves.
You can watch Connors' remarks in their entirety in the video below.