MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — Witness testimony has begun in the Waffle House arrest trial.
Chikesia Clemons is on trial for resisting arrest and disorderly conduct.
Jury selection started in the misdemeanor case on Monday and lasted two days. The case gained national attention after video of the arrest went viral.
In court, both sides argued the timeline of how everything happened. One of the prosecutors, Jeff Parloff, said in their opening statement, they would be focusing on something that Clemons’ allegedly said to an employee as officers got to the restaurant. The responding officer, Saraland Officer Chris Ramey, said Clemons told the employee, “f*** you, b****. I’m going to come over the counter and beat your a**.”
That quote is what the prosecutors are focusing on, as it is the reason for the disorderly conduct complaint.
Clemons was arrested in April 2018 inside the Saraland Waffle House. There was an argument, and police were called. Clemons’ top came off during a scuffle with police and at one point in the video, you can see officers take her to the ground as they try to arrest her. Police say she was drunk and threatened restaurant workers. Clemons’ lawyer says she was just trying to get a corporate number and their treatment was unfair.
Officer Ramey testified Clemons’ threatening to beat up the waitress is what led him to attempt to arrest Clemons in the first place. Ramey says he put her right hand into a handcuff, and while he and another officer tried to get her other hand, they went to the floor. He denies ever choking her.
Clemons’ lawyer, Marcus Foxx, questioned if he actually stopped to assess the situation and if he put her in a chokehold.
Foxx said in his opening statement the waitress wanted to get Clemons arrested, and that the officer chose a side without investigating.
Three other witnesses took the stand, including the waitress involved in the argument and Clemons’ friend and a cook from the Waffle House.
The waitress involved in the argument confirmed Clemons was the one who threatened to come across the counter and “beat her a**.” A cook for the restaurant confirmed he heard someone say they would come over the counter, but could not remember who said it.
About a dozen people are in the courtroom to support Clemons. Many are wearing shirts that say #FreeHer.
In July of last year, Clemons was found guilty by a judge in municipal court. Clemons appealed and was granted a jury trial.
12 jurors and 2 alternates were selected on Tuesday after an extended jury selection. The jury is made up of 9 women and 5 men. There is a gag order in the case.