Deputies in Skagit County, Washington, said they were asked not to return to a local restaurant because "customers didn’t like law enforcement there."
The incident reportedly occurred on July 14. Deputies were dining at Lucky Teriyaki in Sedro-Woolley, Washington, when the owner allegedly asked them not to return to the restaurant.
Sheriff Will Reichardt said he was left speechless by the owner’s request. He detailed the incident in a post on the Sheriff's Office Facebook page that day. He wrote:
This afternoon 4 Skagit County Sheriff’s office deputies were finishing up lunch at Lucky’s. As 2 deputies went up to pay they were informed by the owner that he requested they not eat there anymore. They were told that other customers didn’t like law enforcement there. My chief deputy spoke to the owner to confirm this because he simply could not believe what he was hearing. The owner not only repeated the request but asked that we spread the word to other law enforcement that they were no longer welcome either.
I understand a business owner has a right to refuse service if he wants to…….I also understand that as customers we all have the right to find some other restaurant to take our lunch break in.
The post quickly went viral. It was shared more than 25,000 times, and received more than 12,000 comments in just 16 hours.
"Regardless of your feelings about law enforcement, that was nothing but wrong on so many levels," wrote one Facebook user.
The following day, KOMO News reported that a language barrier may have caused a huge misunderstanding.
Through an interpreter, the restaurant owners told KOMO News that while the deputies were dining, an employee noticed that a customer at another table spilled soup and water.
The employee did not understand why the customers were getting upset and wondered if it was because of the deputies. The employee then asked the deputies if they were about to leave.
The owners added that the employee did not understand when the deputies tried to clarify what had happened. They said they felt terrible about what happened and received death threats over the incident.
In an attempt to make amends, the restaurant is inviting deputies to eat for free on July 18.
"Yeah, I want police to coming," one of the owners said.
"He means welcome for police officers to come over here," said Xuechuang Li.