CLAYTON, Mo. (CBS Local) – The Clayton Police Department in Missouri has issued an apology after its police officers stopped 10 black Washington University students for allegedly not paying for their meal at an IHOP restaurant on July 7. CBS St. Louis affiliate KMOV-TV reports that the incoming freshmen had just left the eatery when police received a call that a group of diners just left without paying.
Clayton police officers reportedly made the students walk back to the restaurant. However, City of Clayton officials claim the students offered to return to IHOP to clear up the situation. Some of the students also showed receipts proving they had paid for their meals.
After officers escorted the students back to the IHOP, the manager said the students weren’t the suspects that failed to pay.
The manager had contacted police to report that a $60 tab wasn’t paid by a group of black customers. That’s the procedure called for by IHOP policy.
A short time later, police spotted the group of teens. Clayton police say they were stopped because they were carrying IHOP bags and some of the black students fit the description given to them by the restaurant manager.
The 10, who were on campus as part of a summer program, told KMOV-TV they felt that they’d been racially profiled.
“I don’t know how you can take that into account,” Clayton Police Chief Kevin Murphy told KMOV-TV.
The school issued a statement expressing disappointment over the false accusations.
“The fact that these students, all of whom are African American, were scared and humiliated is unacceptable to us,” Washington University said in the statement. “We have shared the sentiment with the City of Clayton and have had an opportunity to meet with city leaders to reiterate our concerns.”
The Clayton P.D. said the IHOP involved has had 45 “dine and dash” calls since January and that “collateral damage” such as the incident involving the students was an “additional cost of this kind of criminal activity.”
The department also said it’s open to ways it can perform better in similar situations.
“Our department has and will continue to study what could have been done better in this and in all incidents where we have complaints,” the Clayton PD said in its statement. “Even without any apparent policy or legal violations, we look for ways to improve and make our officers even more effective in positive interactions.”
[H/T CBS News]