Boaz Police Chief Josh Gaskin is not in support of a community boycott of Jack’s Restaurant following the release of video taken by restaurant employees during the arrest of suspected bank robbers Thursday.
Boaz Police stopped a vehicle reported to have been involved with a bank robbery in Albertville Thursday afternoon. The stop occurred in the parking lot of Jack’s Restaurant at about 1:45 p.m.
Employees and others are heard on the video making remarks critical of the police and their handling of the arrest, which resulted in three men being taken into custody at gunpoint.
No one was injured and no shots were fired nor Tasers deployed.
In the video, people can be heard using profanity as they argue the police are using unjust force against the suspects.
One person is heard saying, “They aren’t resisting. Why treat them like that? I haven’t seen the first gun or Taser. They threw that man on the ground for nothing.”
Also during the video, the alleged restaurant employees can be heard shushing each other, stating there are customers inside the restaurant.
“The video footage recorded by the employees and patrons at Jack’s in Boaz showed exactly what was taking place,” Gaskin said. “The only difference in their cell phone video and police department body camera footage would be the angle. Not just the angle at which the video was recorded, but the way the employees and patrons tried to narrate what the officers were doing was wrong.”
Gaskin said he was on the scene as events unfolded Thursday afternoon.
“Assistant Chief Walter Colbert was there telling everyone what to do and where to go,” he said. “Everything the officers did was by the book.
“The suspects were treated the way anyone else is treated when they are suspected of committing a violent felonious crime. The officers weren’t hurt, the suspects weren’t hurt, and no innocent bystanders were hurt.”
Late Thursday evening, Jack’s management posted a statement stating in part, “The recent views expressed by the Jack’s employee who criticized the actions of the Boaz and Albertville Police Departments do not align with our company values and we are taking immediate action to address the situation.”
The statement goes on to say Jack’s “appreciates the brave and swift actions of the Police Departments in keeping our community safe.”
Billie Jo Waara, chief marketing officer for Jack’s, said Friday the company is aggressively and swiftly investigating the incident.
“We do have a social media policy in place to keep things like this from happening,” she said. “Because it involves personnel, we cannot comment on the investigation or possible punishment.
“I do want to reiterate that the video does not align with Jack’s core values. We appreciate the brave men and women who are committed to protecting our community.
“We at Jack’s are committed to supporting our community and do that through sponsorships of sports teams, churches and our Jack’s Family Fund. The fund is employee driven, and regular contribution by our employees are used to help families in need during times of crisis. I can say that in the past year, our Boaz location has helped five families, with things like funeral expenses and short-term housing needs in an emergency situation.”
Many took to Facebook to “back the blue,” including Marshall County Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Bray.
“As someone who works with Marshall County law enforcement every day and understands the dangers and challenges they face, it really saddens me to see officers who are doing a great job protecting our community be denigrated by people who don’t know the truth of a given situation and rush to judgement,” Bray wrote.
“When officers make a felony arrest, it isn’t always going to be pretty, but neither is committing a dangerous felony. The officers in our community who responded did their job in the most professional way possible, with no one getting injured whatsoever.”
Grumpy’s Restaurant posted “At Grumpy’s in Boaz, we always back the blue! Free lunch or breakfast for any Boaz Police officer [Friday]”
Gaskin said he has seen an outpouring of support for his officers since Thursday afternoon’s incident.
“There has been an outpouring of support for law enforcement at both the Boaz and Albertville police departments,” Gaskin said. “There has also been a lot of people that are wanting people to boycott Boaz Jack’s. That is not what I as a police chief believe should happen. The employees made a mistake and that should be handled internally by Jack’s. I wouldn’t want the public to turn against the Boaz Police Department or law enforcement in general because of a mistake made by one or two people.
“It is always important that the truth be told in any situation. Regardless of what the truth is, good or bad. In this case every Boaz Police officer did the right thing. That is the truth.”