KENOSHA, Wisc. (NEXSTAR) – The Kenosha Police Department is under fire from community activists after several officers were filmed forcibly arresting a man in an Applebee’s restaurant during an apparent case of mistaken identity.
The incident took place July 20 at an Applebee’s in Kenosha. Police had entered the restaurant in search of three people who were involved in a nearby hit-and-run, one of whom was said to be carrying a small child, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.
Police were then informed that the suspects may have entered a nearby Applebee’s restaurant. They later entered to investigate and detained a Black man who, they say, appeared to match the description of a suspect, according to court documents obtained by the Kenosha News.
Several officers then surrounded and forcibly arrested the customer — who was holding a baby — all while the actual suspects were hiding out in the restaurant’s bathroom, the Associated Press reported.
In the video, the customer is heard repeatedly yelling at officers to let him go and stop “squeezing” him, while an onlooker urged someone to get the baby to safety.
Once the baby was removed from the man’s grasp, two officers tackled the man to the floor. One of the police officers then appeared to punch the man, at least eight times, while the other officer held the man’s hands behind his back, the video shows.
Despite not being the suspects the police were seeking, the man and the woman he was with were charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest, while the woman was also charged with possession of THC, according to documents reviewed by the Kenosha News.
Police ultimately admitted the man they initially arrested was not involved in the hit-and-run. They arrested the actual suspects after discovering them in the bathroom, the Associated Press reported.
A representative for the Kenosha Police Department did not return repeated requests for comment from News 2’s parent company, Nexstar.
On Wednesday, the director of a community activist group known as Leaders of Kenosha appeared outside of the Kenosha County Public Safety Building to condemn the actions seen in the viral video.
“It just didn’t seem that anyone with a voice of reason … had a uniform on,” said Tanya McLean, executive director and founder of the organization. “The only person that seemed to have a voice of reason … was the Applebee’s employees, trying to get the baby. But the police officers, it just does not appear that they were using good judgement. And that’s just not OK.”
The ACLU of Wisconsin also released a statement calling for accountability on the part of the police department.
“The actions of the police that were captured on video were disgraceful and endangered the safety of an innocent Black man, a baby, and others present at the restaurant,” reads a portion of a joint statement provided by the Wisconsin ACLU, Leaders of Kenosha, and two groups known as All In Wisconsin and Black Leaders Organizing For Communities.
One of the managers at Applebee’s on the night of July 20, meanwhile, told local outlet WISN that she was fired over the incident, claiming they blamed her for the viral video of the arrest. (The viral video, meanwhile, appears to have been filmed by a man identifying himself as an employee.)
When reached for comment, Applebee’s provided a statement from Cas Banaszek, the local vice president of operations.
“The safety and well-being of our guests and team members is a top priority and we do not condone violence or discrimination of any kind,” the statement reads. “We are committed to cooperating with the authorities in their investigation and any additional questions can be directed to the Kenosha Police Department.”