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April 17, 2018

Philadelphia police release audio of Starbucks 911 call, dispatches and officer transmissions

Investigation Starbucks
04152018_Starbucks_18th_Spruce_GM Google/StreetView

The Starbucks shop at 18th and Spruce streets in the Rittenhouse neighborhood of Center City Philadelphia.

Philadelphia police on Tuesday released about four minutes of radio transmissions connected to last week's controversial arrest of two black men at a Starbucks coffee shop in Center City. 

The 911 call from the former Starbucks manager at 18th and Spruce Streets, dispatches and officer transmissions were all included in a video police uploaded to YouTube.

Philadelphia police pledged to conduct an internal investigation of the April 12 incident, including a thorough review of protocols surrounding the department's implicit bias training and relationships with local businesses. 

Police Commissioner Richard Ross staunchly defended the actions of the officers who responded to the 911 call, saying they did "absolutely nothing wrong" in a statement delivered via Facebook Live on Saturday. 

Ross said the two men were deemed to be trespassing because they would not make a purchase at Starbucks and wouldn't leave while they waited for their third party to arrive. The manager, who is no longer employed by Starbucks, told police one of the men had asked to use the bathroom but was denied, per company policy, because he hadn't bought anything. 

Many in Philadelphia and around the country concluded the arrests were motivated by racial profiling, from the manager's 911 call down to police ultimately placing the two men in handcuffs. 

The Philadelphia Commission on Human Rights will be conducting its own review of Starbucks' policies to determine whether they are sound and if they have been consistently applied across the city. 

The two men who were arrested were held for approximately nine hours before they were released, an outcome Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson called "reprehensible" ahead of a visit to Philadelphia on Monday. 

As protests continued at the Starbucks where the incident occurred, Johnson met with Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney on Monday to address the public outcry and develop a plan to collaborate on future initiatives. Starbucks announced Tuesday it will close all of its company-owned locations nationwide on May 29 to provide sensitivity training to its employees. 

That decision was met with criticism on Twitter from people of all political leanings. 

Mayor Kenney said Monday the company is clearly committed to improving their policies to prevent similar incidents from occurring in the future. 

"We're thankful that they have the attitude that they have and that they're going to examine their guidelines and make sure that this doesn't happen again," Kenney said. "They were very contrite and sorry for what happened. We'll work with them going forward."

Kenney added that none of the officers involved in the incident will be fired or disciplined.