Raleigh Smithfield's owner 'devastated' by recent controversy

Wednesday, May 3, 2017
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Smithfield's owner David Harris spoke exclusively with ABC11 about the recent controversy with Raleigh police

RALEIGH, North Carolina (WTVD) -- In an exclusive sit-down with ABC11, the owner of Smithfield's Chicken 'N Bar-B-Q in Raleigh said he was devastated and shocked by a recent firestorm that put his business in the national spotlight.

Some Raleigh police officers say an employee disrespected them, and restaurant owner David Harris said he's lost 5-10 percent of his business because of the controversy.


"A couple of minutes of a post on Facebook destroyed 20 years of work," Harris said.

A post created by Raleigh Police Protective Association (RPPA) went viral on Facebook. The organization claimed officers visited Harris' Smithfield's Chicken 'N Bar-B-Q on Jones Sausage Road last week, and employees sang "F the Police."

"Thank you Smithfield's Chicken & Barbeque Jones Sausage location for the class and professionalism as you sang "F the Police" as my brothers at Raleigh Police Department attempted to eat at your restaurant. The manager sang along as well. Do you really feel that was appropriate?"

Harris told ABC11 the incident didn't happen the way it was described on social media. Through an internal investigation with his attorneys and Raleigh police, it was determined that one of the officers saw one employee "mouth" the F-word.

MORE: Raleigh PD - No restaurant employee sand 'F the Police'

Security video from inside the store shows the two officers were 25 feet away from that employee.

"The first thing I felt was pain and hurt for our employees and our customers," Harris said. "That was a minority of people, it didn't reflect what Smithfield's is, who the employees are."

Harris said that employee quit. Raleigh Police Chief Cassandra Deck-Brown said there was no singing, and no other employees were involved in the incident. She also said it was not witnessed by anyone else in the restaurant.

Deck-Brown said the community, and Harris' business, were victims of misinformation. Harris' attorney said the initial information was shared on social media inaccurately.

"The RPPA put out a version of the facts that were not what the officers ever said," attorney Mark O'Mara said.

Rick Armstrong with the RPPA stood behind the post, which he said stemmed from an internal Raleigh Police email. Wednesday, though, the Facebook page had a new post:

"Last Friday, we shared a post on our Facebook page about Smithfields Chicken and BBQ. There was an investigation conducted and while there were inappropriate comments made by an employee of the restaurant, not all the information in the post was accurate. Smithfields has taken all the appropriate steps to deal with the manager involved and our organization appreciates Smithfields proper investigation and swift action on dealing with the employee.We have spoken with the owner personally and know he is a strong supporter of our police officers. We believe the issue is resolved and encourage our police officers and members to continue to dine at Smithfields Chicken and BBQ."

"Well, I did speak to the officer and he did tell me he heard that F-bomb being used," Armstrong said.

Harris said he values the community and law enforcement. He created the hashtag #SCNBlue to let his customers know his company's respect and appreciation for police.

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