Officials in Missouri have reversed course by defending the officers they previously apologized for wrongfully accused Black college students in July of a dine-and-dash.
Clayton Mayor Harold Sanger posted a message on Saturday that said findings from an independent investigation cleared the officers involved in the IHOP incident of wrongdoing, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.
The police were widely accused of racial profiling when they rounded up the 10 Washington University students, who were later proven innocent. A public outcry prompted an apology from police and city officials.
“Given all these circumstances, the investigation found that initiating contact with this group was in keeping with policies and procedures,” Sanger wrote, adding that there’s a gap in perception between the public and police that he wants to address.
But Washington University in nearby St. Louis wasn’t ready to let this situation go away quietly.
The IHOP manager had contacted the police to report that a group of Black customers walked out of his restaurant without paying a $60 bill. Responding officers immediately stopped the Black students shortly after they left the IHOP.
Even though the students showed the officers receipts, the cops walked them back to the restaurant. The manager confirmed to the police that they grabbed the wrong suspects.
Days later, Clayton City Manager Craig Owens, Clayton Police Chief Kevin R. Murphy and other officials met with several of the falsely accused students and university officials to express their regret for what happened.
That apology now seems worthless.
In his post, the mayor proudly cited the findings in defense of the cops—including the usual excuse that the freshmen fit the description.
“From a cursory review, it is clear that there likely remains strongly differing perspectives on what occurred the evening of July 7,” a university spokeswoman said, commenting on the investigation findings and the mayor’s comments. “Where we agree with the City of Clayton is that racial tension is an extremely serious challenge, especially when it comes to the relationship between law enforcement and the communities they serve.”