Philly Police Commissioner Richard Ross Says ‘I Failed Miserably' While Addressing Starbucks Arrests, Apologizes Along With Mayor Kenney

Commissioner Richard Ross and Mayor Jim Kenney are apologizing and offering new policies in the Center City coffee shop arrests

Philadelphia's police commissioner and mayor apologized on Thursday to two black men who were arrested at a Starbucks in Center City last week.

Commissioner Richard Ross, who is black, previously staunchly defended police for their handling of the incident.

Ross says that he made the situation worse and "failed miserably" in the messaging around the arrests.

Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson were sitting in the Rittenhouse Square store for a few minutes last Thursday when they were approached by police. A few minutes later, they were arrested. Video of the arrests sparked nationwide outrage.

Ross says that the issue of race is not lost on him and he shouldn't be the person making things worse.

"I am flawed like many other folks but that is still no excuse," Ross said.

He also apologized for not knowing Starbucks policy and said he was unaware that you don't have to buy something to sit in the coffee shop.

"I just think that as we work to make this city safer and better we do have to acknowledge that there are still things that we need to work on," Ross said. "It starts at the top and that starts with me. Messaging is important and I failed miserably in this regard."

Later Thursday, Democratic Mayor Jim Kenney joined Ross in apologizing to the men.

"I want to acknowledge their pain and the pain of so many others, and commit our city to healing it together over the coming days, weeks and months," the mayor's statement read in part.

Kenney, who is white, commended Ross for his "ability to reflect on this very difficult week, and to articulate his changed perspective."  

Ross said the arresting officer is mortified and was put into an unfortunate circumstance. He says the officers and men didn't see eye-to-eye during the about 10-minute exchange.

He says the police department did not have a policy for dealing for similar situations, but does now. He says it will be released soon.

"The current realities of race relations and bias in 2018 warrant ongoing re-evaluations by each and every one of us," Kenney's statement said.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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