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Violent 'Bacon Dispute' at Georgia IHOP Raises Questions About Police's Use of Force

“Reducing it to bacon is inflammatory, discriminatory and offensive,” said defense attorney Sarah Flack.

by Bettina Makalintal
Apr 3 2019, 5:15pm

Photo: Scott Olson via Getty Images

When local news stations picked up a story about a police altercation at a Georgia IHOP earlier this week, they wrote that a lack of bacon was to blame for the physical fight between the Marietta Police Department and local chef Renardo Lewis early Sunday morning. “Bacon Dispute At Marietta IHOP Lands Man In Jail,” wrote Patch; according to WSB-TV, Marietta police officers were called after Lewis allegedly “threatened to kill everyone inside over bacon.”

“Dispatchers advised officers that an employee from IHOP called 911 and stated a customer ‘had made threats, including gesturing like he (the suspect) had a gun,’” the Marietta PD wrote on Facebook. According to the department, Lewis’s wife had told them the issue “was not about threats, but that she needed IHOP employee names and their telephone numbers because she was upset they did not have bacon.” The department wrote that both Lewis and his wife became “more and more agitated” as the police gathered statements, and that they tried to place Lewis in handcuffs.

In the violent altercation that followed—which was caught on video and circulated on Facebook and Instagram—Lewis was allegedly “tased, punched, and kicked by up to six Marietta police officers,” 11Alive reported yesterday. According to Lewis’s attorney Sarah Flack, turning the fight into a “bacon issue” dismisses the department’s use of force.

“Marietta Police said it’s about bacon. This case has nothing to do with bacon,” Flack said in a press conference. “Reducing it to bacon is inflammatory, discriminatory and offensive.” (MUNCHIES has reached out to Flack for comment, but has not yet received a response.)

In response to the video, the Marietta PD has defended its use of force, claiming that officers were responding to a call that a customer “had made threats and motioned like he had a handgun.” The department further claimed that Lewis had attempted to strangle an officer while resisting arrest, which was why Tasers and punches were used. “While the video may seem shocking to some, we are very proud that all officers used only the force necessary to place Mr. Lewis in handcuffs,” the department added.

The Marietta PD characterized the fight as a “wrestling match,” but according to Flack, “It was a mob-style attack of five officers on one man. He never resisted.”

In a statement to WSB-TV, IHOP’s corporate office stated, “Our top priority is the safety of our guests and team members. [...] The franchisee’s team quickly followed protocol and alerted authorities. We’re grateful to the police for their quick response and for keeping the guests and team members in the restaurant safe.”

Flack is pushing not only for the charges to be dropped, but also an investigation into the Marietta PD’s use of force, and an apology from IHOP. As Lewis’s wife told 11Alive, “He doesn’t even eat pork.”