Min Kook Um, 35, is accused of pulling his 3-year old son by his hair at a Raleigh Kroger store after church on Sunday.
A clerk at the store told ABC11 that Um came into the store Sunday afternoon and wanted to return used items.
He said that when a manager refused to accept the returns, Um who was holding the sleeping child, became upset.
"He had the baby in his hands. He drops the baby on the floor. He walks out. When he walks out, the baby wakes up and he hits his head on the back of a cart," Walter Young said in a telephone interview.
Young said he then tried to console the little boy by giving him a sticker.
When he walked the boy toward the entrance, he said the boy's father was coming back in the store.
"He suddenly grabs the child's hair and pulls him. When he pulls him I grabbed the child and said, 'No, you can't do that.'"
That's when police were called and when Um said Kroger employees tried to detain his family with more force than when the child was dropped.
"I was sure that moment of impact was lesser than the way they treated my family when they tried to leave the premises. They were pushing and pulling so my family could not leave so the police could be involved," Um told ABC11 by phone.
He went on to say, "I love my family and something unfortunate happened. Our family is having a really hard time coping with this but I am not an abusive father. It was my frustration with the people who lacked customer service. They said there was no manager available when one was and didn't come out until things escalated."
But Young said police reviewed the store's surveillance video to see what happened before charging Um with assault on a child.
"I don't want to see no child abused whatsoever and the way he did it was wrong, was morally wrong. I am a father and I take that to the heart. I take that very seriously," Young said.
Despite maintaining his innocence, Um said he has resigned as youth minister at the Duraleigh Korean Presbyterian Church.