An Applebee’s patron was tackled to the floor while holding a baby and then beaten by Wisconsin police officers as the real suspects hid in the bathroom in a horrific case of mistaken identity.
Kenosha police officers were searching for the suspects involved in a serious hit-and-run crash on July 20 when witnesses to the crash said that they saw two black men and a woman carrying a child bolt down the road into a nearby Applebee’s, according to WISN 12 News.
“(Police) came in and asked (the family) to show them what car they came in, so they could verify if they were in the car accident or not,” Jennifer Harris, the manager working at Applebee’s that night told the outlet.
A separate unnamed employee informed officers of a man and woman with a child eating at a table at the restaurant when they approached them for questioning.
“The guy didn’t want to comply, he had his baby in his arms. (The officers) kept telling him he’s not under arrest, but he’s detained, and needed to answer this question,” Harris said. “He was trying to say he needed to change his son’s diaper. He tried to go the other way, they tackled him into a wall and the baby hit its head on the wall.”
Harris told the outlet that the officers tackled the man and began ripping the baby out of his arms as he was on the ground.
One officer is seen wailing punches down on the man and yelling for him to “put his hand behind his back,” the video shows.
“It’s just sad. I just felt bad for the baby, that it had to go through that traumatic event,” Harris told the outlet as she held back tears.
Though police later said the couple had nothing to do with the hit-and-run, the man tackled in the restaurant was charged with disorderly conduct and resisting and obstructing an officer.
The woman he was with was also arrested on the same charges and slapped with possession of marijuana as well, according to the outlet.
After the horrifying ordeal, police found the actual suspects taking refuge in the bathroom and they were arrested and charged.
“The second he said he wanted to enjoy his food and for them to go away, the officers should have left him alone,” Hal Klibowitz, an employee working that night, told the outlet.
Harris — who has worked at the Applebee’s for about 12 years — was also fired by the establishment, with the eatery blaming her for sharing the video online and with news outlets.
Representing Harris for wrongful termination is Attorney William Sulton, who said they gave Applebee’s the opportunity to reinstate her before they pursued legal action.
The restaurant chain refused.
Community activists protested outside the Kenosha Safety Building on Wednesday — demanding the department to be transparent with their investigation into the officers’ actions.
“Why did the cops feel they needed that level of force with a baby in his arms,” Tanya McLean, the executive director of Leaders of Kenosha, questioned while speaking at the protest.
“What is it that makes you feel as if you need to be so overly aggressive, so confrontational, like you’re ready for a fight?”
An internal “review” is underway to determine if the officers’ use of force was “more robust than what the state requires,” the department shared in a statement to the outlet.
“We were aware of the incident immediately as a result of that process and started a review of it,” the statement read.
“Currently it is under investigation. The investigation when complete will be comprehensive and dictate whether the officers acted appropriately or not and if any disciplinary action or additional training is deemed necessary.”