PEMBROKE PINES -- An Arby's employee in Florida accused of denying a police officer service for being a police officer says it was all a joke, not a refusal of service.
CBS Miami reports that Kenny Davenport, 19, said he was working when Pembroke Pines Police Sergeant Jennifer Martin pulled up to the drive thru window. But he says their interaction was a joke that was taken the wrong way.
According to a police report on the incident, Martin was told by a manager at the restaurant that an employee, now identified as Kenny Davenport, did not want to serve her. The manager allegedly said, "He doesn't want to serve you because you are a police officer."
After the uncomfortable encounter, Martin said she was uncertain she wanted to eat at the restaurant because her food may be tainted. The manager tried to assure her everything was fine, and handed over her food.
According to the report, the manager allegedly laughed and said the clerk was allowed to refuse service to the officer.
"We don't hate cops," Davenport told CBS Miami. "We don't hate anybody. We're just trying to get people out of the drive thru."
Davenport says that he didn't refuse Martin service, but he was so busy he had to ask his manager for help. He said that is when the manager made the unfortunate joke.
CBS Miami previously reported that a South Florida police union called for a national boycott of Arby's after Martin was denied service.
"I am offended and appalled that an individual within our community would treat a police officer in such a manner. It is unacceptable," said Pembroke Pines Police Department Chief Dan Giustino.
Arby's issued an apology in regards to the incident.
"We take this isolated matter very seriously as we respect and support police officers in our local communities. As soon as the issue was brought to our attention, our CEO spoke with the Police Chief who expressed his gratitude for our quick action and indicated the case is closed. We will be following up with our team members to be sure that our policy of inclusion is understood and adhered to. Further, we will be following through with disciplinary action up to and including termination of the employees involved, as appropriate."
In reaction to the incident, the Dade County Police Benevolent Association is calling for the employees involved to be fired.
Davenport's grandfather tell CBS Miami that he believes the whole incident is being blown out of proportion. He raised his grandson and said he has respect for the police. He believes the whole thing is centered around a misunderstood joke.
"Officers lives matter," he said. "Everybody's life matters. Somebody made a joke and she just didn't take it the right way. She didn't think they were joking. She thought it was a serious matter. Now their job as an officer is very serious and I appreciate all that they do."
Kenny Davenport told CBS Miami he sees little point in explaining himself.
"There's no point in talking," he said. "I'm 19. She's an officer and I'm colored."
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