Former Kenosha Applebee's manager fired after video of police arresting man for crime he didn't commit appears online
KENOSHA, Wis. (CBS 58) -- The former manager of an Applebee's in Kenosha is claiming she was wrongfully terminated, after a video of police arresting a man they believed was a suspect in a hit-and-run inside of the restaurant was posted online.
The arrest happened in late July, with Kenosha police storming inside of the eatery.
At the time, officers believed a Black couple and a baby eating inside matched the description given by witnesses involving an earlier car incident.
A now-viral video shows the man, now identified as Jermelle English Jr., getting on the ground while holding the baby, when officers began repeatedly hitting him.
Court documents obtained by CBS 58 said "he was ordered to put his hands behind his back" before the officer "delivered several strong side hand and forearm strikes in order ensure compliance."
The real suspects were later found hiding inside of the Applebee's bathroom.
Despite the couple not being the ones police were originally looking for, English Jr. was taken into custody and charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.
The woman with English Jr., Shanya Boyd, was also charged with the disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. Boyd is also facing a charge of possessing marijuana.
Jennifer Harris, the manager on duty, said the scene that unfolded toward the end of the shift was chaotic.
“It was a lot, I was worried for the baby first off, the baby and the gentleman that was my first concern. I also was vigilant that I had employees," Harris said, recalling pepper spray had somehow gone off inside of the restaurant. “One employee was trying to get the cops to stop punching him, he was like 'hey, hey, stop, he’s on the ground, stop,' and they pushed him, pushed my employee and said one more word out of you and you’re arrested.”
That video, not taken by Harris, was posted online and has since received many reactions on social media.
It wasn't until weeks later on Monday, August 7, that Harris received word she had been fired.
“They told me they can’t trust me and that I didn’t just ruin this Applebee's name, I ruined all the Applebee's in Wisconsin’s name by letting these videos get out," Harris said. “I’m not the one who recorded the videos nor let them out on the internet, so I don’t understand. My employees are trying to get the right story out, so how did we ruin the name of Applebee's?”
Harris said she's dedicated more than a decade of her life to the company, starting out as a server and working her way up to her former managerial title.
“I’m not the one who came in there and beat up innocent people so why am I the one that ruined Applebee's?" Harris said. “Two employees have quit already because I’ve been fired.”
Harris said she's still in shock over the events that transpired.
“I didn’t really ever have plans of leaving Applebee's, I planned on just moving up," Harris said. “I can’t control what other people do and I can’t stop them from recording... and I just wasn’t aware that took place and they said I needed to be aware.”
Now she's without a job when her fiancee is in the hospital and her 11-year-old child is about to start a new school year.
“They had the opportunity to do the right thing also and support this family and they chose to support the other side and care about how they look in the situation," Harris said.
When asked if she'd return to her old job?
“Not after they told me I ruined Applebee's like no, I know how passionate I am when it comes to my work ethic and how much heart I put into my work. They don’t deserve it at this point," Harris said.
Officials with the local Applebee's franchisee sent CBS 58 this statement:
“The safety and well-being of our guests and team members is a top priority. We are committed to cooperating with the local authorities in their investigation and any additional questions can be directed to the Kenosha Police Department.” – Cas Banaszek, VP of Operations, Kenosha Applebee's
The couple will have their final pretrial conference hearing on August 25 at the Kenosha County Courthouse.