Warsaw officer seen choking man at Waffle House on administrative leave
WARSAW, Duplin County —
Warsaw Police Department officials have confirmed to NewsChannel 12 that the officer who put a man in a chokehold outside of a Waffle House has been put on administrative leave.
The incident happened close to two weeks ago. Anthony Wall, 22, claims he had just taken his 16-year-old sister to prom and went to grab a bite to eat when he said he got into an argument with several wait staff members.
From there, police were called to remove Wall, which led to him being choked, slammed, and led away in handcuffs.
The State Bureau of Investigation got involved in the investigation last week after several requests from police and District Attorney Ernie Lee. The FBI is also now involved in the case, according to Mayor Connors of Warsaw.
Wall, along with his attorneys, held a press conference about the incident on Monday, May 14, in Fayetteville. It was announced that they're filing an open records request for all police dashcam video of the incident, including the arresting officer's bodycam video. They also want Waffle House surveillance footage released.
Wall's attorneys also said they plan on investigating the Waffle House Corporation to see if the company "has a pattern and practice of discrimination based on race and sexual orientation."
"It was the Waffle House employees that were the initial aggressors. It was the Waffle House employees who were unprofessional to their customers," attorney Ben Crump said during the press conference. "It was the Waffle House employees who used homophobic slurs toward Anthony Wall, and this here is unacceptable. If you don't respect our business, then don't expect dollars."
Police said Wall was charged with resisting arrest and disorderly conduct for the argument inside the Waffle House. While he takes full responsibility for his interaction with Waffle House employees, he told ABC11 the cop's actions were not justified.
"When you summon the police, you don't expect to have a bully police officer to come and grab a person by the neck and choke them," one of Wall's attorneys said in the conference. "There is no protocol that I'm aware of in North Carolina where police officers are allowed to use deadly force, use choking, as a mechanism to make an arrest, certainly not when a person has his hands up, and Anthony Wall had his hands up."
Wall's attorneys claim that the arresting officers use of a choke-hold was "excessive and inappropriate." They also took issue with Wall allegedly being transported to the County jail in a K-9 unit. They claim that the officer went to the back, pretending to secure the dog, but after driving off the dog came out and snapped at Wall.
"We are currently investigating the whole incident, interviewing witnesses and gathering additional video. We have also reached out to the District Attorney's Office to make him aware of the investigation," Police Chief Eric Southerland told ABC11 in a statement. "Once the investigation is complete and the District Attorney has had a chance to review the case we will provide the public with an update on the findings."
WTVD contributed to this report.