Dallas police are looking into a complaint made by a man after he said he was denied restroom access by two off-duty officers working security in Deep Ellum, Star-Telegram media partner WFAA reported.
The man said in the complaint that he was left with a disability that requires him to have emergency access to restrooms after he was injured and underwent surgery on his lower body while serving in Afghanistan, Kuwait and Iraq as an Army sergeant, WFAA reported. After the off-duty officers denied him access to the bathroom at Serious Pizza in Deep Ellum on June 10, the man called 911 for assistance but urinated on himself before more officers arrived, according to the complaint.
When two on-duty officers arrived after the man had already left, wearing their body cameras, they made jokes about him, according to WFAA. Video from the body-camera footage played for the Community Police Oversight Board on Aug. 8 showed the two on-duty police officers arrive and start making fun of the man.
“Somebody called saying they just pissed themselves because of you two guys,” one of the officers said in the video, part of which was published by WFAA.
A second on-duty officer officer laughingly replied, saying, “You just made a guy pee himself?”
The video then shows officers laughing, one of them slapping his knee and asking, seemingly amused, if the man actually called 911 about the incident.
The second on-duty officer relayed some details from the call.
“He said you wouldn’t let him use the restroom, and then he called and said it’s OK, he doesn’t need to use the restroom anymore because he soiled himself,” she told them.
Dynell Lane, the Army veteran, told the Community Police Oversight Committee that he tried to use the bathroom at Serious Pizza in Deep Ellum at around 2 a.m. but was prohibited by the off-duty officers.
“The Dallas Police Department failed me,” Lane told the committee, according to WFAA. “They declined to assist me by not giving me the courtesy of checking my ID or medical documents. ... I had to endure urine and bowel leakage while inside the restaurant. As a retired sergeant, I had higher expectations for the city. Please hear me when I ask for change so no one with a disability has to endure what I endured.”
The Ally Law in Texas requires that people with certain medical conditions be allowed access to restrooms, even if they aren’t public, if they can show they have a relevant medical disability. WFAA reported that Lane said he wasn’t given the opportunity to provide documentation of his disability.
After hearing the complaint at the oversight committee meeting, board member Jonathan Maples said, “That absolutely turned my stomach,” the Dallas Morning News reported. “It’s absolutely appalling to treat one of our veterans that way.”
The board voted to conduct an independent investigation, the Morning News reported.
Serious Pizza closed at 3 a.m. the day of the incident, according to its online hours of operation, and Lane arrived about 2 a.m. The restaurant told WFAA in a statement that it was “disappointed by the conduct of the officers involved in this incident, the extent to which we were not aware of until the bodycam footage was released (Wednesday.)”
Serious Pizza has requested that the off-duty officers who were contracted to work security for the restaurant that night not be assigned to its restaurant again.
“Their actions were not representative of how we treat our guests and the general public,” Serious Pizza said in the statement provided to WFAA. “Given that none of our employees were presented with any documentation indicating that Mr. Lane was disabled, we are disheartened that we didn’t have the opportunity to resolve the situation in real-time.”
Serious Pizza closes its bathrooms to the public while employees are in the process of closing the restaurant to protect its employees, it told WFAA. Restaurant management is now looking into ways the restroom policy can be revised to prevent a similar incident.
Dallas police spokesperson Kristin Lowman told WFAA that the department was looking into the complaint and that the internal affairs division would be conducting an administrative investigation.