Officer Gets Written Reprimand In IHOP Fight

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ATLANTA - The Atlanta Police Department's internal affairs unit has recommended a written reprimand for Officer Jose Vidal who was involved in a scuffle with a customer at an IHOP restaurant in Buckhead.

Channel 2 Action News reporter Ryan Young was the first reporter to get his hands on the police department's internal affairs report, which cleared Vidal of allegations of excessive force.

"Officer J. Vidal's use of force was reasonable and necessary given the totality of the circumstances that were present during the incident," the internal affairs probe concluded.

However the report did state that Vidal violated the provisions of standard operating procedures concerning extra jobs by attempting to enforce the policies of a private enterprise through the use of his police power.

The scuffle, which was captured on video and posted online, occurred inside the restaurant during the early morning of April 23, police said.

According to the police report, Vidal was working a detail at the IHOP when he asked a woman sitting at a booth, identified in the report as Cynthia Freeman, "not to talk so loud."

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The police report stated that Freeman responded, "I am a criminal justice major" and told the officer "she knows the law." The report also stated that Freeman said the restaurant is "a public place and she knows her first amendment right."

When the officer told Freeman that IHOP was in fact private property and that she would be asked to leave if she continued yelling, Freeman said "she wasn't going anywhere," the police report stated.

Young interviewed one of the women seen in the video. She said a group of friends went to the IHOP to get coffee and that a man asked them to be quiet. The woman said the man never identified himself as an officer.

She said the scuffle escalated when one of her associates told the officer that he was being recorded.

Bobby Aniekwu, an attorney for one of the women, said he disputed details in the incident report.

"I believe the video speaks for itself," said Aniekwu. In the video, an officer is seen punching a woman in the face after she struck him.