Albany, Ga. — Alvin Adams, owner of A.J.'s Seafood and Oyster Bar was arrested Thursday at his restaurant, along with the manager and a waitress, police officials say.
Tammy Jones, a witness and first-time customer at the restaurant, said a "panhandler," later identified as Timothy Banthongsack of 3621 Council Road, came into the restaurant and was soliciting money from customers when employees asked him to leave. Banthongsack is described as a 22-year-old black man in jeans and a tee shirt.
Jones, who was there with her brother Darryl Jones, an off-duty detective with the Albany Police Department, said "racial slurs" were used in the staff's demand for Banthongsack to leave. Jones said that when the panhandler was walking out, a waitress, identified as Kaylene Bridges, gave him a push toward the door. Banthongsack then turned and told Bridges "you don't have to put your hands on me." While Jones feels that Banthongsack should have left the restaurant as soon as he was asked to, the staff's actions crossed the line, she said.
"It wasn't handled properly," Tammy Jones said, "The young man was willing to leave the premises and said so. If the waitress (Bridges) hadn't left her post and shoved him toward the door when he was leaving, he wouldn't have turned and asked her why she'd touched him."
Tammy Jones said she felt it was Bridges' shove which incited the aggression of other staff members toward Banthongsack.
"They were beating him and kicking him on the floor of the restaurant," Tammy Jones said, "and then they dragged him outside and beat him some more. A man from Macon intervened and restrained (Banthongsack) and while he was holding him they were still beating him."
In the police report, Bridges was quoted as stating that Banthongsack "went crazy" when asked to leave and that she was unaware of how the fight started.
According to the police report, another employee of the restaurant, Angel Patton, stated that Banthongsack had been "screaming all kinds of nonsense" and saying he was being discriminated against, racially. At one point Banthongsack threw his hands into the air and everyone "fell to the floor," Patton told police.
Jeremy Hancock, 30, manager of A.J.'s told police that he had asked Banthongsack to stop asking customers for money. According to Hancock, Banthongsack refused to leave the premises and continued to solicit customers. At that point Hancock called 911, he said, and began to back Banthongsack toward the door. Hancock said that when Banthongsack protested verbally and physically pushed restaurant owner Adams, that's when Adams threw Banthongsack to the ground, where they exchanged punches.
According to Phyllis Banks, spokeswoman for the Albany Police Department, Adams, 60, and a waitress, Kaylene Bridges, 23, were taken into custody and charged with disorderly conduct. Hancock, was also taken into custody and charged with interfering with a city officer.
The victim, Timothy Banthongsack, was observed to have a "knot" on one side of his face and a scratch on one forearm, officials said.
While Banthongsack had given his address to the APD as 3621 Council Road, Dougherty County police report that he was arrested for criminal trespass at that same address several hours after the restaurant incident. After the arrest he was transported to the Dougherty County Jail, police officials said.