PEMBROKE PINES, Fla. – The manager of a Pembroke Pines Arby's has been fired after Sgt. Jennifer Martin claimed she was refused service Tuesday night.
Arby's CEO Paul Brown offered a free meal to all Miami-Dade and Broward County police officers after the police sergeant was denied service this week.
"Please accept our sincerest apology for the recent incident that occurred at our Arby's restaurant in Pembroke Pines, FL," Brown said in an open letter. "This isolated incident does not represent Arby's Restaurant Group's views and Arby's values. We appreciate all that you do, as well as the hard work and sacrifices of your fellow law enforcement officials in communities across America."
Officers, who must be in uniform, were offered a free combo meal of their choice Friday at any Arby's location in Miami-Dade or Broward counties.
According to an offense report filled out by Martin, the officer ordered her food in the drive-through of the restaurant and drove to the window to pay.
Martin claims that the clerk, Kenneth Davenport, took her credit card. She said the restaurant's manager, Angel Mirabal, 22, then approached the window and said, "He doesn't want to serve you because you are a police officer."
The officer said she told Mirabal that she was uncomfortable and "wasn't certain I wanted to dine at the restaurant."
According to the report, Mirabal assured Martin that everything was OK, handed her the food and laughed while telling her that Davenport was allowed to refuse her service.
Martin said that she went inside the restaurant, and Mirabal provided her with a refund and his contact information. She said Davenport refused to give her his contact information.
Mirabal told Local 10 News that he was fired as shift manager at the Arby's restaurant, but he declined a request for an interview.
Davenport's grandfather told Local 10 News that his grandson was making a joke to the officer and said his words were "taken out of context and blown into something much bigger than what it should be."
Still, the incident outraged law enforcement officials and others in the South Florida community and around the nation.
Some held a protest outside the restaurant Wednesday, while the Broward County Police Benevolent Association president called for a national boycott of the fast-food chain.
"Don't eat here. They hate cops," one protester told a customer who pulled into the drive-through.
The restaurant released the following statement Thursday: "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."
That's exactly what Mirabal said happened following a meeting with restaurant management.
Davenport's grandfather told Local 10 News on Thursday night that Davenport is suspended and that a meeting Friday morning will determine his fate with the company.
"He is very upset," Davenport's grandfather said.
McDonald's served breakfast and lunch to the department Thursday, while Magic 102.7 and Whole Foods Market offered up all sorts of goodies to the officers. Sublicious Subs at 10215 Stirling Road in Cooper City also served free food to officers Thursdays and said it plans to do so again Friday.
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