• Man at center of yogurt shop incident speaks out

    By: Siemny Kim

    Updated:

    Surveillance video shows Byron Ragland entering the yogurt shop with a woman and child, whose court-ordered visit he was supervising.

    It later shows Ragland sitting alone in the corner of the store.

    He explained to KIRO 7's Deborah Horne what he was doing.

    “Just being a fly on the wall type of thing is what I do,” Ragland said. “Sit on back and just watch them visit, you know document the visit.”

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    Ragland said no one from the shop ever spoke to him. but what happened next at the Menchie's Yogurt Shop in Kirkland's Totem Lake has left him shaken and upset.

    “Definitely thought it was profiling and discrimination,” he said. “Pretty much I look up, and these two police officers [are] standing in front, from what I remember there, and the first comments were we need to leave the premises.”

    Ragland said he explained he was working.

    “I gave them my name initially. My client who was with me, she reassured them ‘Oh, he's with us, he's working. What's going on?’” Ragland recounted.

    It turns out Ramon Cruz, the store owner, had called 911 when one of his employees texted him and asked him for help.

    “In the text, there was nothing about race, no color,” Cruz said. “I immediately, in front of my head, you know, safety first. I called police.”

    A portion of the 911 call shows Cruz told the dispatcher, “My staff just called me, and I'm looking at the camera, and there's one guy who has been sitting at the corner, hasn't bought anything. He's been sitting there for over 30 minutes.”

    He also said, “They're kind of scared because he looks suspicious. He just keeps looking at the phone and looking at them.”

    Cruz explained he's had some problems recently. including where a customer started throwing chairs in one of his other businesses.

    He also said he’s been robbed.

    He maintains he was not being racist.

    “So, we didn’t look at it as he was black,” Cruz said.

    Instead, Cruz said he saw a person who could be a problem from a safety perspective.

    “Now I know that was a mistake. I should not have associated previous incidents in our other stores,” Cruz added.

    “You're not going to convince me that my color didn't have anything to do with why the police was called,” Ragland countered.

    Ragland points to this part of the 911 call.

    The dispatcher can be heard saying “Yes, we can have officers there and tell him to move along. Do you know what he looks like? What race he is?”

    “He's African-American from what I can see from the camera,” Cruz answered.

    Ragland is a 9 year Air Force veteran, a court-appointed special advocate and a visitation supervisor but he says all some people see is the color of his skin.

    So, rather than argue with police, he and his clients simply decided to leave Menchie’s.

    Now, instead of just an apology, he's calling for accountability.

    “I'm not accepting anybody's apology,” Ragland said. “You know, if you want to apologize to me, let's change some practices, let's change some policies.”

    The Kirkland Police Department is investigating whether its officers who responded to this incident acted appropriate

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