The city of Kirkland and Kirkland Police Department have issued an apology after police were called on a black man on Nov. 7 while he was at a Menchie’s Frozen Yogurt in Totem Lake.
In the police report, Kirkland officers said they responded to a call from the frozen yogurt store from the owner Ramon Cruz after one of his employees called him saying there was a man in the store making her uncomfortable. Cruz asked police to ask the 31-year-old Byron Ragland to leave the store.
The Seattle Times reported that Ragland is a court-appointed special advocate and a visitation supervisor who oversees meetings between children and the parents who have lost custody of them. Ragland was supervising a trip to Menchie’s Frozen Yogurt on Nov. 7 when the two employees asked Cruz to call police, the Times reported. Ragland had been in the store for around half an hour.
According to the police report, Kirkland officers asked Ragland to leave. The mother told the two responding officers Ragland was there with them for visitation. Kirkland police then asked for Ragland’s full information and the names of the mother and child, but they told police they were leaving and wouldn’t give any more information.
The police report then stated that the employees told police that Ragland “had been in the store for a while and did not buy anything, and he was not making them feel comfortable. They were both thankful that Ragland was gone.” The Times reported that both employees were white.
In the 911 call, posted on Soundcloud, Cruz said he was watching cameras and saw Ragland sitting in the store without buying anything, which he said made his employees nervous.
“They’re kind of scared because he looks suspicious,” Cruz said in the recording.
Cruz also said his store had problems with drug use in the bathrooms and a robbery in the past. Cruz said his employees didn’t feel safe asking Ragland to leave. Cruz posted an apology on Menchie’s Facebook page on Nov. 17 in response to the Seattle Times article.
In an email statement, Cruz said the store would implement policy changes. He also apologized to Ragland for the experience and said he will be working with his team to make sure it doesn’t happen again in the future.
“I humbly apologize to Mr. Ragland for what he experienced during his visit. This does not reflect my values, and I am genuinely sorry,” Cruz wrote in the email.
In the Facebook statement, Cruz said the incident was unacceptable and that he took full responsibility for it. He also said that there was an attempted robbery in October, as well as recent vandalism within a month prior to the Nov. 7 incident.
In a statement from the city of Kirkland and KPD written by Police Chief Cherie Harris and city manager Kurt Triplett, the city apologized to Ragland.
“We take our commitment to fostering a safe, welcoming and inclusive community very seriously. When we first learned of the incident we asked our Detectives to immediately initiate an investigation. Today we were presented with the preliminary findings of that investigation,” the statement read. “Our initial assessment showed that the interaction that occurred did not meet the expectations of our community or the high standards we set for ourselves.”
The statement went on to state that the police department regretted making Ragland and those he was with feel uncomfortable. The city also promised to reach out to experts, community members and business leaders to discuss how to become “the community we want to be.”
The incident in Kirkland is one of the latest in a nationwide series of largely white people unnecessarily calling the police on black people. These include an incident from April when two black men were arrested at a Starbucks after a manager called the police because the pair hadn’t ordered anything within three minutes of them sitting down.
Also in April, a Pennsylvania golf course manager called the police on a group of black women golfers, falsely claiming they had weapons, ABC reported. In another well-publicized incident from April, Jennifer Schulte called police on black barbequers in Oakland. Schulte was later branded “BBQ Becky.”