St. Francisville, LA – The Assumption Parish Sheriff’s Office says that a Burger King owner demanded that they issue a press release absolving his business of wrongdoing, after two uniformed Assumption Parish sheriff’s deputies were denied service at the restaurant.
The two deputies had just completed a long day of SWAT training in Zachary and were traveling home on May 17, when they decided to stop off at the Burger King restaurant in St. Francisville, Assumption Parish Sheriff’s Office Public Information Director Lonny Cavalier told Blue Lives Matter.
The deputies saw employees working inside the store, and pulled around the back of the business to the drive-thru lane in their marked patrol vehicle.
“They sat there for an extended period of time before someone finally let them order,” Director Cavalier explained.
But when one of the deputies ordered a chicken sandwich, the female inside cut him off.
“We’re out of chicken,” she said sarcastically.
The deputy began to order a Whopper instead, but was interrupted by a male’s voice.
“We’re out of burgers, too,” the employee said.
The deputies then asked the employees if the items were out of stock, or if they just didn’t serve police officers.
“The only response was laughter,” Director Cavalier said.
The shocked deputies waited at the drive-thru speaker, but when the employees continued to ignore them, they pulled ahead to the payment window.
They parked for a moment, then one of the deputies exited the patrol vehicle and stuck his head inside the window to speak with someone.
“He could hear them inside laughing, but no one would come to the window,” Director Cavalier explained.
The deputies then left the restaurant, and later told their supervisors about the encounter.
“They were embarrassed and humiliated,” Director Cavalier told Blue Lives Matter. “This is new for us. We’ve not had that kind of relationship with any vendors, ever.”
Director Cavalier said that he contacted Burger King’s corporate office several times, but that “nothing ever came of it.”
Undeterred, the director wrote a letter to the editor of The Bayou Pioneer and outlined the treatment the deputies had received at the Burger King restaurant.
“What is troubling is that these same Burger King employees, in the event a robbery was occurring at the time, would have expected these two deputies to take a bullet for them, and those deputies would have,” Director Cavalier wrote in the published letter. “Now we’ll wait and see how the Burger King Corporate Office responds.”
Director Cavalier received a call from the St. Francisville store owner approximately one week after The Bayou Pioneer printed his letter, he said.
“He was very angry. Very upset,” the director recalled. “He said, ‘My employees never refused to serve any police officers.’”
The store owner then alleged that Director Cavalier’s story was an “outright lie,” and that the employees had only refused to serve “people who just happened to be police,” he said.
“So, I asked him if they refused to serve those specific officers, and he admitted that they did,” Director Cavalier told Blue Lives Matter.
The director noted that the store owner’s “play on words” was “virtually laughable.”
“All we were looking for was a fair shake,” he said. “Not an excuse – just an explanation.”
Director Cavalier said that the department never asked for the employees to be fired, but that they simply didn’t want to see other officers treated in the same manner.
The Burger King owner told him he had already fired the employees involved and that he had other problems with the same workers in the past, the director said.
In addition to the store owner’s admissions about the events that transpired, he also confirmed that he had store surveillance of what occurred, the director said.
“He said he won’t show it,” he added.
The franchisee claimed he had attempted to contact Assumption Parish Sheriff Leland Falcon “multiple times” since the allegations surfaced, but the sheriff had no missed calls or voice messages from him, the director said.
According to Director Cavalier, instead of apologizing, the Burger King franchisee demanded that the Assumption Parish Sheriff’s Office issue a press release to retract the allegations against his business.
He also wanted the agency to apologize to his store.
“I told him, “Don’t wait, because there will be no retraction,” Director Cavalier vowed. “I was dumbfounded.”
He said that the owner assured him he would be calling back to discuss the issue further, but that he hasn’t heard from him in the week since.
“If the employees were actually terminated, that’s fine, but [the company] needs to make amends to their own community,” Director Cavalier told Blue Lives Matter. “It’s a very nice town and we don’t blame the town – we blame Burger King as a whole.”
At this point, the sheriff’s office is just hoping that Burger King acknowledges what occurred, and that the company works to ensure it doesn’t happen again.
“They owe the department and their own citizens an apology,” Director Cavalier said.
There was no answer when Blue Lives Matter attempted to call the restaurant.
Blue Lives Matter reached out to Burger King's corporate office for comment, but we have not received a response by press time.
Correction: The original image on this story showed a thumbnail of patrol car belonging to another agency.