THURSDAY NEWS HIT - Nearly a dozen Detroit police officers went to a Novi restaurant looking for a late meal, but were denied service.
The group was predominantly African-American, but the general manager at Bar Louie insists that race was not a factor - adding it was a bad decision by the employee left in charge who chose to close up early.
"We’re walking out and I hear somebody at the bar say 'We weren’t going to serve them,' and everybody busted out laughing," said Sgt. Myron Watkins.
Watkins says he and 10 other off-duty officers were embarrassed and humiliated after they were denied service at Bar Louie in Novi.
It happened after their shift Monday night. They went to the bar to hang out but after waiting several minutes to be seated a manager came out and told them the kitchen was closed.
"One of my co-workers asked, 'What time does the kitchen close?’ He didn’t give us a direct answer," Watkins said. "He pulled out his cell phone, looked at his cell phone and said, 'It’s 9:26 and it closes at 9:30.'"
"Walking in there like I said earlier, there’s a sign on the door that says kitchen stays open late. Doesn’t make sense, right?" said Aaron Gonzales.
Especially not when the group says there were still people inside placing orders. Two of the officers asked a stranger to go in and try to get service.
"He was able to sit down, had a menu and he asked them what’s good to eat?" said Dominique Brown. "She responded 'A burger.' We didn’t get that treatment."
Officer Johnathon Gardner says it felt like Jim Crow all over again.
"Like I told them outside being a Detroit police officer, I'm in the military for 15 years, and when you add it up we've all got 40 years we've served this country between us," he said. "And it's like we can serve our country but we can't come in and have a burger, we can't have anything to eat. It's kind of infuriating because the same people we fight for, won't even serve us."
Nine of the 11 officers are Black, one Latino, the other white. FOX 2 interviewed seven of them Wednesday night, the other four did not want to show their faces on-camera.
The group ended up going to Buffalo Wild Wings and if there was any uncertainty about what happened – it was all crystal clear when by the end of the night.
"Once we left the other restaurant, as we were walking by Bar Louie, they were serving food. And that was around 11 o’clock at night," Watkins said. "So their kitchen didn’t close," he said. "It was just closed for us."
FOX 2 asked the officers to raise their hands if they believed they were discriminated against, even though the customer they asked to go inside and try to get service, was Black.
Every hand went up.
"I felt it," said Dana Ford. "As soon as we walked in the door."
"One single Black guy isn't a problem," Gardner said. "As a group I feel we were judged. They looked at us, and they judged us a group, (like) 'This is too many Black people coming into our establishment, this is too big of a concern, they’re going to cause a scene or a ruckus.' And I feel like they judged us.
"I feel like if we were a group of 11 white people, we would’ve had a totally different interaction."
A spokesperson for Bar Louie provided a statement saying in part:
"We have reached out to the group of officers to sincerely apologize for their experience and invited them back in to enjoy a chef-inspired meal and handcrafted cocktails on us. While we regret the incident occurred, we will use this opportunity to better train and educate our teams to ensure that it never happens again."
"There’s nothing you could really give training on - it should come natural," said Juwan Brown. "Treating people like people, is something that should just naturally be done."
That group of officers are now in contact with an attorney Todd Perkins who says what happened there merits at least a conversation with corporate leadership. Legal action is not out of the question.
In the meantime those officers have no intention of taking up Bar Louie on its' offer.
The entire statement from Bar Louie is below:
"At Bar Louie, we proudly celebrate the diversity of our team members and welcome guests of all races, ethnicities, religions, sexual orientations, professions and political beliefs. When we hear about an incident that conflicts with those values, we alert the proper individuals, conduct an investigation and take immediate action to address the situation. In this case, we have reached out to the group of officers to sincerely apologize for their experience and invited them back in to enjoy a chef-inspired meal and handcrafted cocktails on us. While we regret the incident occurred, we will use this opportunity to better train and educate our teams to ensure that it never happens again."
Suspects attempt U-Haul snatch and grab at west Detroit vape shop
Police are searching for the suspects behind an attempted snatch and grab on Detroit's west side that left the front of a vacant business completely demolished. The storefront was turned to ruble after a U-Haul truck appeared to have backed into the business.
According to police, the suspects that got out were trying to use the building to gain access to an adjacent business. The incident happened around 3:30 a.m. at Asbury Park and Seven Mile.
A witness told police that four men in ski masks got out of the U-Haul after backing into the business. However, something scared them off, causing them to flee the scene. The cement barriers in front of the vehicle are likely what prevented the suspects from backing into the storefront itself.
A Facebook Marketplace fake steals real money
It's not the big score that Jack Furne is interested in, but the small scams that can add up in a big way. The Facebook Marketplace user has become a prolific thief in his dealings with prospective customers.
While plenty have come forward, the petty thievery isn't enough to raise the ire of police. The crimes are too small. But not too small for Rob Wolchek. He blocks people. He ghosts them. he gives excuses. And of course, he rarely delivers on his promises to provide what he's selling.
In FOX 2's latest Hall of Shame segment, Wolchek tracks down the elusive figure behind the Facebook Marketplace scam. The first thing to know: Jack Furne isn't even his real name. It's John Toye. That's when the pieces started to come together.
Prosecuting decision in death of Patrick Lyoya today
The Kent County prosecutor plans to announce Thursday whether he will charge the officer that shot and killed Patrick Lyoya in early April. It's been two months since the fatal incident that stemmed from a traffic stop.
By the time the skirmish between the officer and Lyoya ended, the Grand Rapids 26-year-old was dead with a single gunshot wound to the back of his head. The press conference will be at 3 p.m. FOX 2 will stream the announcement live.
The officer, Christopher Schurr, had originally pulled over Lyoya for a license plate issue. Lyoya appeared confused by the stop and started to run from the officer. Video captured the escalation and the shooting.
Whitmer requests disaster declaration at Gaylord tornado site
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer asked President Joe Biden on Wednesday to declare a major disaster in Otsego County, where an EF-3 tornado struck Gaylord on May 20.
The storm with 140 mph (225.31 kilometers per hour) winds killed two people and injured 44 others, officials have said. It destroyed homes and businesses, causing millions of dollars in property damage.
"We are doing everything in our power to secure all available assistance for the people of Gaylord as quickly as possible," Whitmer said in a news release.
What else we're watching
- A state police vehicle was struck by a car during a traffic stop on I-94 near 10 Mile in St. Clair Shores Thursday morning. According to MSP, the driver of a passenger car was traveling in the left lane when they lost control and slammed into the back of the patrol car.
- Troy Beaumont is showing off its new $8 million neonatal intensive care unit at the hospital today. The 15,000 square foot facility will be showcased Thursday morning.
- Michigan Sen. Gary Peters, who chairs the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee is teaming up with an Ohio Republican to discuss white supremacy threats and concerns over domestic terrorism linked to fringe beliefs today.
- The cost of gas is high. And while promoting electric vehicle alternatives might draw criticism from some, studies are finding those that do own an EV are already seeing savings compared to their gas guzzling cousins.
- I-94 is getting a new bridge downtown. It'll require shutting down the freeway between I-75 and the Lodge for an entire week to install the new bridge. That kicks off in mid-July.
Live on FOX 2
It'll be a pretty slow weather day in Southeast Michigan, with conditions hovering in the low 70s by the late afternoon and partly-to-mostly cloudy dominating most of the day. A spotty shower is possible tonight.
Capitol riot hearing: Jan. 6 committee to go prime time with 'mountain of evidence'
With never-seen video, new audio and a "mountain of evidence," the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol will attempt to show not only the deadly violence that erupted that day but also the chilling backstory as the defeated president, Donald Trump, tried to overturn Joe Biden's election victory.
Thursday's prime-time hearing will open with eyewitness testimony from the first police officer pummeled in the mob riot and from a documentary filmmaker who recorded the melee, and it will feature the committee's accounts from Trump’s aides and family members of the deadly siege that put U.S. democracy at risk.
"When you hear and understand the wide-reaching conspiracy and the effort to try to corrupt every lever and agency of government involved in this, you know, the hair on the back of your neck should stand up," Rep. Elaine Luria, D-Va., a member of the 1/6 committee, said in an interview with The Associated Press.
"Putting it all together in one place and one coherent narrative, I think, will help the American people understand better what happened on January 6th — and the threats that that could potentially pose in the future."