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Independence Applebee's closes after racial profiling allegation

Posted: 8:15 PM, Feb 15, 2018
Updated: 2018-02-16 01:53:40-05

INDEPENDENCE, Mo. — The Applebee's at Independence Center mall has shutdown, just days after firing three employees amid allegations of racial profiling.

A spokesperson for Applebee's corporate office told 41 Action News Thursday night the restaurant has officially shut down and employees have been offered jobs at other locations.

The spokesperson would not give a specific reason for the closure. Independence Center mall is headed for a foreclosure sale on Friday.

"I was told to come into work Thursday morning in uniform," said Teryn Johnson who says she has worked at Applebee's for 30 years. "I got there at 9:30 a.m. and noticed the big trucks were out there removing the sign. I knew that was a sign."

Last weekend, a woman posted a video on Facebook after she accused the restaurant of racially profiling her and her friend. The video has been viewed millions of times.

According to a police report obtained by 41 Action News, a manager contacted Independence, Mo. police last week. The report says the officer was told by a manager "there were two females in the restaurant that [were] currently seated and [were] responsible for failing to pay for their meal on a prior occasion."

The officer, a restaurant employee and a mall officer then approached the women. That is when one woman began taking a video. In the video, you can hear one of the women crying and saying multiple times, "we have not been here."

According to the police report, the incident began getting the attention of the entire restaurant. The report reads, "by this time, all activities in the restaurant stopped. Customers stopped eating and workers were completely distracted."

The two women were eventually asked to leave.

As first reported by KSHB.com, after conducting an investigation, on Monday Applebee's fired three employees. They also closed the restaurant for the team to "regroup, reflect, learn and grow."

But just days later, workers were seen taking down the signs outside the restaurant.

The two women involved have since hired a lawyer. On Monday, the lawyer said the two women had no comment. 41 Action News has reached out to the lawyer since, but have not heard back.

For the first time, on Thursday, the city of Independence and the Independence Police Department commented on the incident.

In a statement to 41 Action News, a spokesperson said, "Since the event transpired on Friday, the officer’s professional conduct has been carefully and thoughtfully reviewed by the Professional Standards Unit to ensure compliance with departmental policy. The City of Independence does not comment on any findings or outcomes with regard to the matters of personnel."

In the same release, City Manager Zack Walker said he regrets the negative experience the women had in the city.

"City staff receive regular training on diversity and sensitivity to ensure the diverse populations we work with have a fair, equal and inclusive experience," Walker said. "We make every effort to provide the highest standard of service and hold our staff to these high standards.”