A man allegedly spit on a black child in a Kansas restaurant and called the boy the N-word — then when police arrived, told them, “It’s OK, I’m a firefighter.”
The incident happened at a Hooters restaurant in Overland Park this week, where the child was with close to two dozen members of his family for a birthday party. As KCTV reported, the preschooler walked away from his family during the event and somehow came into the path of the angry diner. A witness said the man spit on the child and then called him racial slurs.
“He basically said get that little ‘blank’ up off the floor,” the witness said. “The N-word started to get thrown around.”
The witness said there was fear that the unprompted attack on the child could lead to violence, but the family reportedly did not retaliate and had left with the young boy before police arrived. When officers responded to a 911 call, the man tried to explain his actions away by telling them that he is a first responder.
“I didn’t catch what the officer said to him, but his immediate response was ‘It’s okay, I’m a fireman,’ like that was supposed to blanket cover everything for him,” the witness said.
Though the family left before police arrived, they returned later in the week to give an account of the incident to investigators, the Overland Park Police Department noted in a press release this week.
As reports of the incident spread, the local Overland Park Fire Department turned into a target, with many people sharing angry messages on social media about the firefighter and calling for him to be fired. But the department quickly clarified that the man did not work for them, and noted that police were thoroughly investigating the incident.
The incident even prompted Hooters to issue a response, with the company releasing a statement noting that it does not tolerate any harassment or derogatory language in its restaurants. The company said that it was fully cooperating with police in the incident.
The story generated national coverage and was among the most-read stories on the New York Post this weekend. Many called for the harshest charges possible against the man, noting that the child was only a preschooler.
Police said they are planning on charging the man who spit on the black child but did not yet specify what charges he would face. The man’s name has not yet been released.