BY CASH MICHAELS OF THE WILMINGTON JOURNAL
Was the violent videotaped May 4 arrest of 22 year old Anthony Wall, of Fayetteville, by a Warsaw police officer outside of a Warsaw Waffle House and its aftermath a case of excessive police force?
Attorney Benjamin Crump, well known nationally for his advocacy of alleged police abuse victims, says yes, and appeared with Wall and Fayetteville Attorney Allen Rogers Monday during a press conference in front of the Cumberland County Courthouse.
Crump says he wants to see police dashcam video, as well as video from inside the Waffle House restaurant, to determine all of what was said and done, leading up to, and including, the now infamous smart phone video that purportedly shows Warsaw Police Officer Frank Moss with his hand tightly around Wall’s throat, slamming the young man against the Waffle House store window outside and then body slamming the young man to the parking lot pavement.
The video has spurred cries from no less than the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and even the daughter of late civil rights leader, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Rev. Bernice King, CEO of The King Center in Atlanta, who tweeted upon reading a story about the incident, “Family, let’s stay out of Waffle House until the corporate office legitimately and seriously commits to 1. discussion on racism, 2. employee training and 3. other plans to change and until they start to implement changes.”
Rev. King was referring to, not just the May 4 Warsaw incident, but an earlier controversy at a Waffle House in Alabama where White police officers arrested a young Black woman, wrestling her to the ground and, according to video of the event, exposing her breasts while handcuffing, with one officer threatening to “break her arm” if she did not comply.
The NAACP Legal Defense Fund called the Warsaw incident, and specifically that police officer’s alleged chokehold of Anthony Wall, “grossly inappropriate.”
The video of what happened to Wall outside of Waffle House May 4has raised questions about whether Officer Moss could have employed a far less violent manner to subdue Wall after an allegedly boisterous confrontation between the Fayetteville man and Waffle House staff inside the restaurant.
Wall had escorted his 16 year old niece to her prom and had taken her to the restaurant afterwards to eat. However, apparently, because of a busy night, all of the tables had not been cleaned for them to be seated, reportedly.
Wall and his niece sat down at a dirty table, reportedly, and words were exchanged with a Waffle House employee.
A video posted to the Duplin Times Facebook page from inside the Waffle House shows a young Black man closely resembling Anthony Wall, along with a young Black female, both formally dressed, standing at a table, yelling and cussing at Waffle House personnel. There are other African-American teenagers in the video that also apparently attended a prom.
The next scene in the video shows a different angle of the Officer Moss arrest of Wall. He already had the young man down on the ground, and another officer in a dark uniform was assisting in handcuffing Wall before he was taken away.
Wall was eventually charged with resisting arrest and disorderly conduct. He said he offered no resistance while being arrested outside.
At Monday’s press conference, flanked by his attorneys, the young man alleged that he was mistreated by police personnel after his arrest, which included being thrown into a police cruiser with an aggressive K-9 police dog.
Attorney Crump indicated that a lawsuit is most likely in the offing against the Warsaw Police Dept., and most likely Waffle House, as well. He alleged that his client was the target of gay slurs from at least one Waffle House employee, thus causing the confrontation before Officer Moss arrived.
The open question now is, once Moss did arrive after he was called by the Waffle House staff, how did he try to defuse the volatile situation and did he consider the admittedly angry Wall such a threat, that the officer was justified in using near lethal force?
The Black mayor of Warsaw, Rev. A. J. Connor, says yes.
In a videoed message, last week, Mayor Connor said that Officer Moss was justified in containing young Wall in the violent manner in which he did because the “…young man had broken the law,…and refused to cooperate…”
The mayor added that the State Bureau of Investigation is probing the matter. So is the Warsaw Police Dept.
Officer Moss remains on the job during the course of the investigation.
Attorney Crump, a native of Lumberton, called what happened to Anthony Wall “…a gross violation of his civil and human rights.”
In his video, Mayor Connor insisted that what happened to Anthony Wall was not “race related.”
However, Attorney Crump and others disagree, asking if Anthony Wall were White, would he have been treated in the same fashion?