A 16-year-old boy has stirred up controversy in his hometown of Redding, Calif. by claiming that he overheard a Taco Bell manager ordering his employees to lock a homeless man in a dumpster outside the restaurant.
The boy, local high school student Jacob Cook, was waiting in line to order at the Taco Bell when he heard an employee allegedly talking about the homeless man to the manager of the store.
Cook explains that the employee claimed a homeless man was sleeping in the dumpster outside the restaurant, and the manager immediately responded by saying he knew how to deal with the situation
“[The manager] said to put the bar on the trash can and basically lock him in there, and close the gate around him,” Cook said.
Cook claims that he then followed the employee outside, watched him lock the dumpster, then returned to the restaurant to explain his concern to the manager. Cook’s account of the story quickly spread through out the community and became popular on social media accounts.
Cook also befriended the homeless individual, referred to as Josh, and claims that “a friendship has blossomed” from the incident.
Darren Hailey, the accused manager, denies any involvement with locking Josh in the dumpster.
“[The story] is extremely false. The gentleman was sleeping in the dumpster. We simply closed the dumpster gates...per city ordinance. The dumpster itself was unlocked at all times. Nothing was locked...the lid has to remain closed or the city fines us a bunch of money,” Hailey said.
Redding police logs, however, tell a different story. According to the logs, Josh was “discovered by an employee of Taco Bell who closed and locked dumpster enclosure gate, trapping male inside and then thres a bag of trash over the enclosure on top of [him].”
According to the the Redding Record Searchlight, the city does encourage businesses to keep dumpsters closed and locked. If the dumpsters are found open, however, there is no fine.
In response to the incident, Taco Bell issued the following statement to The Consumerist:
“We are an organization that puts people first, from our team members to our franchisees, to customers and the people in the communities in which we serve. These rumors are completely untrue and are not a reflection of our values."