I TEAM: Fired fast food worker explains not serving cop

The FOX 8 I TEAM is getting an explanation from the fast food worker fired last week when he said to a police officer, ‘I don’t serve cops.’

Tay Brown calls it a big misunderstanding.

Friday, Cleveland Police officer Frank Garmback stopped for coffee at the Dunkin’ Donuts along West 117th on the Cleveland-Lakewood border. Brown says a co-worker stepped up to serve the officer, and Brown says he simply made small-talk. But what he said got him fired.

Brown told the I TEAM, "And I just made a joke like, ‘I don’t serve cops anyway.’ And so he was just like, ‘What?’ Before I could say anything else, he's like, ‘I'm not even gonna give you guys my business.’ The next morning I woke up to a phone call saying it was over with for me.”

Earlier, we met the family of officer Frank Garmback. He still deals with the fallout from the police shooting years ago that killed 12-year-old Tamir Rice. Garmback had driven the police car there. The shooting ruled justified, yet it hasn’t been forgotten.

Brown says he had no idea about that connection. He admits he’s had some trouble with the law, but he says he’s never had a problem with police customers.

Brown said, "Other cops, state highway troopers, transit cops, sheriff's that came in there, I made jokes with them also. None of them ever took it personal.”

That brief encounter has sparked a firestorm in ways you may not have imagined. Many police officers say the ownership did the right thing putting that worker on the street. Firing him. But the owner says the shop has also gotten lots of angry calls from people wondering why did it have to go this far?

Paul Patel, co-owner of the shop, told us earlier, “That’s not a joke.” He said his business has no place for anything like that.

We met Tay Brown holding his baby daughter and worried about finding new work. He says he understands officers are often targets of criticism and even violence, and he says he tried to apologize to officer Garmback. When asked what he’d say if he ran into the officer once more, Brown said, "I'd try to apologize to him again."

The co-owner of the store says he’d like to just get all of this behind him because it has disrupted business.

Tay Brown says he’d like to get it behind him, too, and that’s why he wanted you to hear his explanation.