The U.S. loves its burgers. In fact, Americans eat burgers about 4.3 times each month — that’s a little more than once a week. But while getting a burger is fun for many, for 17-year-old Vanae Wright and her friend Leilani Green, getting a burger was anything but.
Last week, Wright and Green were eating at a San Antonio Whataburger. Officers responded to reports of a fight in the burger joint’s parking lot, according to Wright’s father, Vaughn Wright.
There, officers found “close to 100 people,” Bexar County Sheriff’s Office spokesman James Keith told the Huffington Post. They followed some of the people gathered into the restaurant, which is when the real trouble started.
“When the kids ran in ― I guess the police didn’t know who was who, and instead of them finding out, they just automatically attempted to clear the whole restaurant,” said Vaughn Wright.
According to the sheriff’s department, the Whataburger manager asked patrons to leave. Wright refused, remaining seated. The officers arrested her for criminal trespassing and Green for interfering with the arrest, according to Keith.
However, footage circulated online shows Wright sitting in an empty corner while BCSO Deputy Cynthia Hernandez stands next to her. Deputy Hernandez tosses Wright’s food to the floor and handcuffs her. Green picks up Wright’s hat and tries to put it on her friend’s head, but is apprehended by a second officer.
According to Daryl Washington, the Wright family’s legal representation, the manager didn’t ask patrons to leave. Instead, he alleges that the officers singled out the girls and unlawfully arrested them because of their race.
In an emailed statement to News4a.com, the Wright family’s legal representation says the teens violated no laws, saying:
“As seen in the video one of the officers threw Vanae’s food to the ground and immediately escalated the situation, which was not necessary. In a matter of seconds, the lives of these two young ladies were placed into the hands of a group of overzealous officers. There is simply no way for them to ever forget that moment in time when they were treated like hardcore criminals. It has been extremely difficult for the young ladies to handle this incident which has now been viewed throughout the media. Officers are paid to protect and serve, not arrest innocent individuals,” says Daryl Washington, with Washington Law Firm, P.C.
Keith claims that there’s no evidence that the arrest was unlawful or that the officers racially profiled the girls.
The Whataburger manager declined to comment, the Huffington Post reports.
“I am grateful they didn’t shoot her they didn’t kill her,” Toni Wright , Vanae Wright’s mother, said during a Facebook Live post. “They didn’t hurt her.”