KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Update (11/23): The mother of a McAlister's cashier responded Wednesday to allegations surrounding her 15-year-old daughter, saying her daughter "intended no offense" to a Knox County deputy after department authorities said they were refused service at the independently owned deli on Schaad Road.
In a statement sent by the Held Law Firm in Knoxville, Chanada Robinson said her daughter asked for help from a co-worker because there was a line and she was near the end of her shift.
Robinson called statements from the Knox County Sheriff's Office "untrue," saying it has created a dangerous environment for her daughter, McAlister's co-workers and customers.
Robinson is the mother of Anthony Thompson Jr., the 17-year-old Austin-East High School student who was shot and killed by an officer during a confrontation with the Knoxville Police Department in April 2021 in the school's bathroom. Robinson's daughter is Thompson's sister.
The family said it wanted to make it clear that the incident Monday had nothing to do with Thompson's death.
An attorney for the family, Margaret Held, also said the 15-year-old was fired Wednesday after a public comment from KCSO saying she refused to serve officers.
Held said the restaurant did not take the girl's statement and did not talk to her. She also said the restaurant did not answer questions about video footage of the incident.
"Officers are supposed to protect and serve," said Held. "So, the irony of the public communications officer in giving a public comment without any investigation has caused her to be cyber bullied and receive death threats, and cost her her job."
The full statement from her mother is below.
"The cashier in this story is my 15-year-old daughter. Near the end of her shift, she faced a line of customers and still had other work to do before she could go home, so she asked her co-worker to help. She intended no offense. Our family has been traumatized by the loss of my son, Anthony. All she did was ask for help from a co-worker.
I am proud of my daughter for holding a job while going to high school, and I am proud of my daughter for asking for help when needed. The police are supposed to protect our community, yet Kimberly Glenn used her position as the Communications Director for Knox County Sheriff’s Department to make untrue statements about my child and cause her, now, to be a victim of cyber-bullying. dangerous environment for my daughter, other McAlister’s staff and customers."
The Knox County Sheriff's Office said that on Monday, three deputies arrived at a McAlister's on Schaad Road. They said a cashier there refused to take the order of one deputy, and they left after speaking to a manager.
"This incident, unfortunate as it was, is an isolated incident here in our community. We have always been blessed by a supportive community that loves and appreciates our law enforcement and first responders," said a spokesperson with KCSO.
They also said someone who was in line for service called the sheriff's office Tuesday morning to report that the deputy was refused service. According to a statement from KCSO, they said the CEO and the area manager reached out to the sheriff's office as well as the deputies and other members of the community.
"We genuinely believe this is not the position of McAlister’s, and we believe they not only support our men and women but welcome them," they said.
A spokesperson for McAlister's Deli also responded to the incident, saying that the location was independently owned. Their full statement is below.
“At McAlister’s Deli, we value each of our guests and are committed to treating all with honor, dignity and respect. We have the utmost appreciation for law enforcement officers and are proud to serve all of our community heroes, and this incident is not reflective of our brand and our values. This location is independently owned, and the franchisee has been working closely with the Knox County Sheriff’s Office to rectify the situation.”