OVERLAND PARK, Kansas — Police say charges will be filed after a racial slur was hurled at a child, age 3, at a Kansas Hooters restaurant.
KCTV spoke to a witness who was at the restaurant and he said he was dumbfounded by a statement the firefighter made to police.
“He basically said get that little ‘blank’ up off the floor,” the witness recounted. “The ‘n-word’ started to get thrown around.”
The comment left the witness speechless. He said he was about five feet away from the altercation inside Hooters on Monday, Feb. 26 around 8:15 p.m. He said he saw a child wander away from his family and, when the family member came to retrieve the preschool-aged kid, another customer used a racial slur and spat at the child.
He thought a physical altercation would follow, but instead, police were called to the restaurant.
The witness said he was even more shocked when police came inside and interviewed the man in question, who told police he was a first responder.
“I didn’t catch what the officer said to him, but his immediate response was ‘It’s OK. I’m a fireman’ — like that was supposed to blanket cover everything for him,” the witness said.
Overland Park police said on Thursday they were speaking with the family again, that there were several witnesses and that the firefighter could be charged with battery and making a criminal threat.
On Friday, police said charges will be filed.
The child’s family called KCTV and also said the man spat on their child. They were celebrating a birthday at Hooters with about 20 to 30 guests. The family said the young boy wandered away from the party.
The 3-year-old’s grandfather spoke to KCTV on Friday, but did not reveal his identity because he fears retaliation.
“My whole body just went numb,” he said. “How could someone do that to a child? He’s a baby. He’s helpless. He didn’t deserve that.”
The fact that the suspect has been identified as a Kansas City fireman is not sitting with the family or the witness.
“Sick to my stomach,” the grandfather said. “But you know what? You have to pray for people like that.” “This society needs to come together. When it’s a child, it’s not right.”
KCTV reached out to Hooters and they sent the following statement early on Saturday:
“Hooters does not tolerate any harassment or discriminatory language, the safety and well-being of our guests and employees are our utmost priorities.
Of course it goes without saying that our policy is to fully cooperate with any law enforcement investigation.
— Hooters of America”