Two San Diego Chargers players and a Houston Oilers player
SAN DIEGO (AP) _ Two San Diego Chargers players and a Houston Oilers player said they were angry and embarrassed when a restaurant owner telephoned police and identified them as possible suspects in a series of robberies.
Chargers tight end Duane Young and offensive lineman Eric Moten had invited Oilers running back Lorenzo White to dinner Saturday night at The Butcher Shop in the Kearny Mesa area. The Oilers were in town for a game Sunday.
Young said the three, all black and teammates at Michigan State, were seated and had ordered when two policemen approached and asked for identification.
When the players asked what they had done wrong, they were told they fit the descriptions of three men suspected in several robberies.
″It just reaffirms that nothing has changed,″ Young said. ″The bottom line is I was embarrassed and embarrassed for my friends.″
Police spokesman Bill Robinson said 15 to 20 robberies have been committed by three black men in the area.
Restaurant general manager Joanne Bennie said she telephoned owner Roberto DePhilippis shortly after seating the players. DePhilippis called police.
″Anybody in my position would’ve done the same thing,″ Bennie said. ″We’re about the only place that hasn’t been hit around here. In fact, a gas station next to us was hit about 8:30 that night.
″Unfortunately, they fit the (description). They were well-dressed black men and there were three of them. I felt it would be better to be safe.
″The only thing I regret is that the policeman went up to their table. I just assumed they’d wait until they came out.″
DePhilippis could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
″We did our job and I presume the restaurant feels they did their job,″ Robinson said. ″It’s unfortunate that it did happen.″
Young and Moten said the officers treated them courteously. But they said they were angry Bennie had them questioned and did not apologize.
″After the policemen left, we sat there for a minute before Lorenzo said, ’I don’t need this bull,‴ Young said. ″So when the lady brought our food, we said, ’We’re not going to be eating here.‴
Robinson said the officers had the choice of questioning the players inside the restaurant or in the parking lot.
″If the officers felt that a robbery was about to take place, then they would be remiss by standing outside in the parking lot,″ Robinson said.
Moten and Young said the officers still were waiting in the parking lot when they left the restaurant.
″They might have been in the parking lot doing reports or something else,″ said police spokesman Robinson. ″Once ID has been made there’s no reason for the officers to remain there.″
Said Young: ″I wonder what would’ve happened if we weren’t Chargers. What if we were just three average blacks in there?″