Three actresses, including American Idol alum and current Greenleaf star Asia’h Epperson, claim they were wrongfully arrested at a Houston’s restaurant in Atlanta on Mother’s Day after an altercation that began in the eatery’s bathroom, and a video of the incident uploaded by one of the women has renewed controversy over the upscale casual chain’s treatment of patrons.
The women’s attorney, Gerald Griggs, told Hello Beautiful that Epperson, Brittany Lucio, and Erica Walker entered the chain location to meet up with friends who were already dining there. The hostess told them the kitchen was closed, so they asked to use the bathroom. The hostess reportedly said yes, but before they were done, she came in and asked them to leave.
As they were finishing up, an off-duty police officer working as a security guard entered the women’s restroom, where he asked them to leave several times. Atlanta NBC affiliate 11 Alive News reports that, according to the police report, the guard grabbed Lucio by her wrist twice and in the ensuing altercation Lucio punched him in the mouth, leaving lacerations.
A restaurant staffer called police for backup while the security guard attempted to detain Lucio and Walker. Epperson got out her phone and started recording. The video, which was later uploaded to Instagram, shows the security guard wrangling two women in the bushes outside the establishment. A man in a suit can be heard aggressively accusing Lucio, who is being bent over shrubbery, and Walker, who can be seen sitting on the sidewalk, of “assaulting an officer.” Epperson, from behind the camera, threatens the guard with legal troubles and plead for him to let them go, but he doesn’t.
In a statement posted to Instagram, Epperson said she was “hurt” and “distraught” over the situation, which she described as “scary” and “unjust.”
“We are educated, respectable, talented young women who had not only been embarrassed and humiliated, but also traumatized by the officer’s lack of ethics, professionalism, and blatant physical assault on us for no valid reason,” the singer and actress wrote. “The statements made and released by this officer are false and exaggerated and we will be taking legal action.”
Walker posted to her Instagram story, where she wrote, “I feel like @asiahepperson, @britt_lucio, and myself had our rights violated, our dignity stripped, and unforeseen anxiety created! I wouldn’t wish this on any woman or person for that fact. I only wish that justice is served and that we can resolve this righteously.” Walker also posted photos of a “busted lip” and bruises on her arms.
Lucio also released a statement, writing that the altercation with the officer left her “bruised and battered,” but “not broken.” She, too, documented photos of bruising on her eye and legs, which rapper T.I. reposted to his account.
The 37-year-old recording artist — who called for a Houston's boycott in 2017 because of discrimination allegations — shared two reaction videos to social media. He captioned one, “I’M LIVID.”
In a statement to The Daily Meal, a Houston's spokesperson said: "We are aware of a complaint regarding an incident at our Houston’s Restaurant on Peachtree Road on May 13th and are cooperating with the Atlanta Police Department (APD). The evidence we have seen thus far shows that three women arrived approximately 30 minutes after closing time, they went into the restroom as a group after being told that the restaurant was closed, the three stayed in the restroom for more than 10 minutes, and refused to leave despite repeated requests from several managers to do so. Eventually, an off-duty Atlanta Police Officer again asked the women to leave. An altercation with the APD officer ensued which led to additional APD being summoned."
Each woman was charged with criminal trespass and booked into Fulton County Jail, 11 Alive reports, and Lucio was also charged with felony obstruction. Atlanta police are currently investigating the incident. For more legal drama in the food world, here are the 9 most memorable crimes that went down at fast food restaurants.