She wasn’t kidnapped or assaulted. Case closed.
Anderson County Sheriff’s Office finish up your investigation of a bogus claim that a Starbucks manager was kidnapped and assaulted by the store’s unionized employees.
In my time as a police reporter, I read hundreds, of reports detailing kidnappings and assaults. What happened in an Anderson County Starbucks on Aug. 1 wasn’t even close to either crime. It would be an insult to all actual victims to consider for more than a minute that a crime actually happened.
That day, unionized Starbucks employees presented a list of demands for better working conditions, including higher pay and more hours. After presenting the demands, they stood near their manager as she sat at a table. All of this is protected by United States labor law.
After the interaction, the manager called police, the employees said, and police opened up an investigation into possible kidnapping and assault.
Kidnapping involves holding someone against their will. But an audio recording of the encounter indicates the manager asked if she could leave, and the employees said yes.
In almost all kidnapping cases, the kidnapper takes the victim’s phone so they can’t call for help. The Starbucks manager was talking on her phone before she got up and while she scooted away and brushed against some of the employees, video shows.
Assault in the South Carolina code of law is “if the person unlawfully injures another person, or offers or attempts to injure another person with the present ability to do so.”
Standing and brushing against someone is not assault.
I understand that we expect police to evaluate all reported crimes. But to spend weeks investigating whether a store manager who was able to talk on her phone and walk out of the store was kidnapped and assaulted drains resources and diminishes the seriousness of real crimes.
If the Anderson County Sheriff’s Office chooses to file charges against any of the employees, it won’t be because a crime actually happened. It will be because the investigators don’t like these employees speaking up for themselves. A charge will be nothing more than the anti-union sentiments that are pervasive in South Carolina coming to life. That wouldn’t be justice.
Aside from ending the investigation, the sheriff’s office needs to publicly say no crimes were committed. Investigators should do that because the Starbucks employees’ unionization effort has a national profile, and now these mostly young Anderson County workers have been demonized by false accusations.
The fact that two weeks have passed in an investigation that should have taken, at most, two hours makes the whole thing even more incredulous.
Does the manager need to be investigated for filing a false report? No. She reacted poorly to what was probably an unprecedented situation for her. Anderson cops should know that they don’t need to be anywhere near a labor dispute. They should have gotten away weeks ago.
The Anderson County Sheriff’s Office isn’t the only one at fault for this absurdity of policing. The 10th Circuit Solicitors Office should suggest that a stopped be put this investigation. Solicitor David Wagner needs to get on the phone and advise Sheriff Chad McBride to end the charade.
If that conversation has happened in private, the two need to get in front of cameras and reporters and say the investigation is over and that no crime happened.
They should say the case is closed because of insufficient — or, rather, zero — evidence.