Cleveland, OH – Dunkin’ Donuts has issued a response after their employee refused to serve a uniformed Cleveland police officer.
The incident occurred on Friday, when Cleveland Police Officer Frank Garmback stopped at the Dunkin’ Donuts store located near the border of Cleveland and Lakewood, WJW reported.
When he walked up to the counter to order an iced coffee, Officer Garmback said the employee behind the counter was anything but courteous.
“I don’t serve cops,” the worker allegedly told him, just before he turned and walked away from the officer.
“I was outraged and I was saddened for him,” one of Officer Garmback’s relatives told WJW. "He loves his job. He loves what he does. And it just broke my heart, him saying, ‘Someone refused to serve me because I was a police officer.'”
The store’s owner, Paul Patel, said he quickly fired the unnamed employee, who claimed his comment was a “joke.”
“That's not a joke. That's not a good joke. We can't tolerate jokes like that,” Patel told WJW. “I came in right away, and we got rid of him.”
He said that the former employee had recently gotten into trouble with the law and speculated that his behavior towards the officer may have had something to do with that contact. He noted that he had already begun the process of firing the employee prior to the incident.
Patel said he plans to pay a visit to the First District Police headquarters, where Officer Garmback works, to talk to the officers about the incident.
“It’s pathetic this attitude is out there,” Cleveland Police Union President Jeff Follmer told WJW. “We’re grateful the manager handled it the way he did.”
Dunkin’ Donuts corporate office also released a statement in the wake of the incident.
“The franchisee who owns and operates the restaurant has informed us that he has terminated the individual involved in the incident and he is contacting Officer Garmback to personally apologize for the negative experience and hopefully bring this to a satisfactory conclusion,” Dunkin’ Brands Senior Director of Global Public Relations Michelle King told Blue Lives Matter on Tuesday.
“Dunkin’ Donuts has a long history of supporting local law enforcement and all those who do so much to ensure the safety of our neighborhoods and our country,” King added. “Our franchisees are committed to serving each and every guest with dignity and respect.”
Officer Garmback made national headlines in 2014, after he and his partner responded to a report of an individual with a gun at a park.
The officers encountered 12-year-old Tamir Rice, who reached into his waistband and lifted up an outer garment.
Officer Garmback’s partner exited the patrol vehicle and fired two rounds, one of which fatally struck Rice.
In 2015, a grand jury declined to bring charges against the officers because it was reasonable for them to believe that Rice was reaching for a gun.
Officer Garmback, who was driving the patrol car but did not shoot, was suspended for 10 days because the department said that he used poor tactics by stopping the patrol vehicle directly next to Rice.
According to WJW, the officer’s family said they are still dealing with backlash associated with the justified shooting.
The Dunkin’ Donuts employee was unaware of Officer Garmback’s involvement in the altercation with Rice when he refused to serve him, WOIO reported.