Story that Publix worker wouldn’t serve Mount Pleasant cop inaccurate, police and grocer say

A story circulating on social media that a Mount Pleasant Publix deli worker refused to serve a cop Tuesday is not accurate, according to spokespersons for the police and Florida-based supermarket chain.

“We are aware of an incident involving our officer and the claim that he was refused service at Publix,” Inspector Chip Googe said in an email Friday. “Due to the seriousness of the allegation, our Chief and Deputy Chief met with the management of Publix and believe that the initial information put out via social media is inaccurate. We will release more information regarding this incident as we look into the matter.”

Publix spokeswoman Kim Reynolds reiterated there was “miscommunication caused by inaccurate information” concerning a deli employee at the company’s North Point store on Ben Sawyer Boulevard and said the company has been working with the police department to determine what happened.

“We have conducted a thorough investigation and found that at no time were services refused to any customers,” Reynolds said. “The Mount Pleasant community is very important to us, and we want to reassure the community that we care about each of our customers.”

The incident sparked concerns that it might be part of a trend. Several similar incidents of service workers supposedly refusing to serve officers have been reported around the country in the past few months, according to an October New York Times article.

For instance, a Dunkin’ Donuts employee, spotting a police officer in the back of the line in West Hartford, Conn., announced, “He didn’t get the message; we don’t serve cops here,” according to the report. Some said they were concerned that service workers were becoming part of a backlash against police officers after widespread publicity over officers shooting civilians.

It turns out that many of the reports have been exaggerated. For instance, a report that workers at a New York City Chipotle restaurant held up their hands and refused to serve a group of police officers turned out to be one worker holding up his hands as a joke but the officers being served normally.

Googe sent out another statement later in the day Friday debunking the theory that an officer was refused service in Mount Pleasant.

“With all of the information gathered, we feel that this was a case of miscommunication that created a misunderstanding,” he said. “We do not believe there was any malicious intent on the part of Publix or their employee. Our officer was provided service by another employee before he left the store. We appreciate the strong partnership we have with Publix and consider this matter closed.”

Googe or Reynolds didn’t specify what the miscommunication was or what kind of misunderstanding resulted.

Warren L. Wise contributed to this report. Reach Dave Munday at 843-937-5553.