Groups seek removal of Warsaw Mayor & Police Officer

WARSAW, N.C. (WITN) Several groups have filed a complaint with the Department of Justice seeking the removal of the Warsaw Mayor and a police officer following a video where an officer is seen using what some say is excessive force.

The video shows Warsaw Police Officer Frank Moss putting his right hand on 22-year-old Anthony Wall's throat while arresting him outside of the Waffle House, and then taking him to the ground.

Moss is on administrative leave while the SBI and FBI investigate.

Warsaw Mayor A.J. Connors, who is also black, said people need to be patient and let the system work.

"I want the public to understand this is not a racially motivated issue," said the mayor. "This was just a young man who broke the law and a law enforcement officer arrested him. Unfortunately, physical contact took place because he refused to follow the law."

Jesus Uniting Souls To Increase Community Engagement (JUSTICE) Ministration and its Stop Killing Us (SKU) Solutions Campaign, in partnership with the National Congress On Faith & Social Justice have filed a complaint against the town of Warsaw.

A civil rights complaint was submitted to the U.S. Department of Justice.

The complaint says Connors immediately expressed support for the police officer while criminalizing Wall by repeatedly referring to the youth as someone who “broke the law.”

“No longer will we sit by and allow elected and other officials to poison the process with their narrative, while at the same time we are being told to wait and let the process work,” said Rev. McCorry of the National Congress On Faith & Social Justice.

The complaint takes issue with Mayor Connors’ demanding all onlookers to reserve judgement, not jump to conclusions, and allow due process to produce the outcome, but “hypocritically” not hesitating to use “his tremendous influence and jumping to his own conclusions while using his powerful position as mayor to push a narrative which totally violated the process and further tilted the scales of advantage to favor officer Moss regardless of what the video showed,” says the complaint.

The complaint says both officer Moss and Mayor Connors should be removed.

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As one community in the east continues to come to grips with an instance of alleged police misconduct in their community, Monday night they came out in force to show support for an investigation into what happened.

Just hours after finding out that the Warsaw police officer accused of using excessive force while arresting a local black man at a Waffle House was put on administrative leave, a sizeable group of community members showed up at the Warsaw Town Hall meeting to share their concerns.

The chambers were filled to capacity as the community looked to make a statement about a video posted on social media that shows Warsaw Police Officer Frank Moss putting his right hand on 22-year-old Anthony Wall's throat while arresting him.

"He should be suspended without pay because I really wouldn't want my son in that position, or my daughter for that matter," says Rosalind Galloway, one of the community members that came to the meeting.

Following the established meeting code, Duplin County NAACP President Robert Moore spoke for the collective group, advocating for the investigation being conducted by the SBI regarding the incident. He's also asking the town council and mayor to refrain from making any further comments on the incident until the investigation is completed.

"We want a vanilla transparent investigation," Moore says. "Not biased, and not by public comment or things of that nature. We want to make sure that proper procedure has taken place."

Joining the local NAACP president was Rev. Dr. Anthony Spearman, who was also in the council chambers as a show of support before gathering with people outside after the meeting.

"How can we restore our humanity and how can we restore our democracy," Spearman asks. "Those two questions are the questions I think we need to wrap our minds around as it relates to these incidents that are occurring."

According to Warsaw police, the FBI is also now conducting an investigation alongside the SBI.

In the meantime, Anthony Wall has secured a lawyer who says that the officer used excessive force in the arrest and says he has questions as to whether Waffle House employees are trained properly.

In a statement from Waffle House, where the incident took place, the company said that race was not a decision for their employees to call the police. They say the call to police was made out of safety concerns.


Previous Story

WITN has obtained 911 calls that led to the controversial arrest of a black man at an Eastern Carolina Waffle House by a white police officer.

Cell phone video released last week shows Warsaw Officer Frank Moss putting his right hand on Anthony Wall's throat. Wall appears to resist the officer in the video and eventually, Moss takes him to the ground.

The 22-year-old Wall was eventually arrested for disorderly conduct in a public building and resisting a public officer, both misdemeanors.

The SBI, and now according to Warsaw police, the FBI, are both investigating the arrest.

911: "Hello?"

Caller: "Yes ma'am, we have an issue at the Warsaw Waffle House. There is a customer starting a fight in the middle of the restaurant."

911: "Ok, are these the customers?"

Caller: "Yes, ma'am."

911: "Hold on just one second, ok, hold on."

A lot of commotion is heard in the background of the call.

Wall's lawyers say the man and his younger sister sat down at an empty table last Friday night that hadn't been cleaned off yet. Wall said moments later a Waffle House employee questioned why they were sitting at the table and made homophobic remarks to Wall.

Two minutes after the first 911 call, a second employee called.

Caller: "We need the police officer at Waffle House, uh, we got a riot going on, and I mean quick."

911: "Yeah, we got them en route."

Caller: "Please get 'em here quick because there's a bunch of them fighting."

911: "Yes, we got them on the way. Approximately how many fighting?"

Caller: "There's probably 20 fighting."

Wall's lawyers say Moss used excessive force in the arrest, and they question whether Waffle House employees are trained properly.

"It was the Waffle House employees that were the initial aggressors. It was the Waffle House employees who were unprofessional to their customers," said attorney Ben Crump during a morning news conference in Fayetteville. "It was the Waffle House employees who used homophobic slurs toward Anthony Wall, and this here is unacceptable. If you don't respect our business, then don't expect dollars."

Waffle House says race was not a decision for their employees to call the police. They say the call to police was made out of safety concerns.

Horace Ezzell knows Moss and says, "He's a good cop. I've never known him to be in trouble doing nothing wrong. He's always helping people. He'll give you the shirt off his back."

Edward Lewis also knows Moss and says, "He's not a racist man. I see him as a brother in Christ and that's what he is."

Moss has been placed on administrative leave while the investigation continues into the arrest.


Previous Story

Lawyers for a man arrested last weekend at the Warsaw Waffle House say police used excessive force against Anthony Wall.

A video shows Officer Frank Moss putting his right hand on Wall's throat. Wall appears to resist the officer in the video and eventually, Moss takes him to the ground.

The 22-year-old Wall was eventually arrested for disorderly conduct in a public building and resisting a public officer, both misdemeanors.

The SBI, and now according to Warsaw police, the FBI, are both investigating the arrest. Officer Moss has been placed on administrative leave by the police department.

Attorneys representing the Fayetteville man want police dashcam and Waffle House surveillance videos released.

Wall, according to his attorneys, had complained to staff at the Warsaw Waffle House after he and his sister sat down at an empty table that had not been cleared. The two came to the restaurant after Wall had accompanied his younger sister to her high school prom.

The attorneys say employees spoke to the two "in a derogatory manner, using homophobic slurs directed at Wall, and eventually summoning the police."

"It was the Waffle House employees that were the initial aggressors. It was the Waffle House employees who were unprofessional to their customers," said attorney Ben Crump during a morning news conference in Fayetteville. "It was the Waffle House employees who used homophobic slurs toward Anthony Wall, and this here is unacceptable. If you don't respect our business, then don't expect dollars."

Last week, the daughter of slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. called for a boycott of Waffle House after what happened in Warsaw and another case in Saraland, Alabama.

In a statement, the restaurant chain said in both cases, "race was not an issue in the decision to call the police". "Both incidents escalated quickly, and our employees called the police because of safety concerns for their customers and themselves. We train our employees to call the police whenever they feel in danger, or if they feel their customers are in danger," the statement continued.

Crump, who is also representing the Alabama woman, says they will investigate whether Waffle House has a pattern of discrimination based on race and sexual orientation.


Previous Story

The State Bureau of Investigation is now looking into whether an Eastern Carolina police officer used appropriate force when he arrested a black man Friday night, this as a daughter of Martin Luther King, Jr. says people should avoid visiting Waffle House.

Duplin County District Attorney Ernie Lee says he and Warsaw Police Chief Eric Southerland have both requested the SBI look into the arrest of Anthony Wall of Fayetteville.

It happened at the Waffle House in Warsaw. The 22-year-old Wall was eventually arrested for disorderly conduct in a public building and resisting a public officer, both misdemeanors.

Wall says he had just taken his younger sister to the prom and got into an argument with employees inside the restaurant.

A video shows the police officer putting his right hand on Wall’s throat. Wall appears to resist the officer in the video and eventually, the officer takes the man to the ground.

“I was pretty much trying to scream for air and to breathe because he was poking my throat so that I pretty much gasp when I got aggressive with him,” said Wall.

The NAACP Legal Defense Fund called Wall’s arrest “a violent police takedown”.

“We’re once again outraged by a video showing police officers using excessive force on an unarmed, non-violent African-American Waffle House customer,” said Sherrilyn Ifill, president of the NAACP LDF. “Once again this incident was sparked when a Waffle House employee called the police after the patron allegedly complained about customer service. And once again the police responded with violence.”

Bernice King, the youngest daughter of the slain civil rights leader, said the restaurant chain needs to take responsibility on how its employees deal with customers.

"Family, let’s stay out of @WaffleHouse until the corporate office legitimately and seriously commits to 1) discussion on racism, 2) employee training, and 3) other plans to change; and until they start to implement changes," King posted on Twitter.

In Tarboro today, Governor Roy Cooper said he hasn't seen the video, but agreed that the SBI should look into the arrest.

Meanwhile, Warsaw Mayor A.J. Connors, who is also black, said people need to be patient and let the system work.

"I want the public to understand this is not a racially motivated issue," said the mayor. "This was just a young man who broke the law and a law enforcement officer arrested him. Unfortunately, physical contact took place because he refused to follow the law."

Wall was released into his mother’s custody, according to the district attorney, and has a June 7th court date.


Previous Story

A video posted to social media shows a teenager in his prom attire being choked by a police officer and slammed onto a Waffle House parking lot in Warsaw, Duplin County.

Warsaw Police Chief Eric Southerland told The News & Observer of Raleigh that his department and the district attorney’s office are investigating, and more information will be released. It wasn’t immediately clear what might have prompted the officer’s use of force.

One video posted to Facebook on May 8 shows the white officer slamming the black teenager against a window, then turning him around and gripping the teen’s neck. The officer then pins him to the pavement with his left hand on the teen’s head as other young people stand around them, recording the scene.



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