Woman involved in verbal dispute at Denny's restaurant in Lethbridge loses job, issues apology
Published Wednesday, May 9, 2018 12:35PM MDT
Last Updated Wednesday, May 9, 2018 7:30PM MDT
A verbal altercation that was captured on a cellphone and uploaded to social media by a patron at a Denny’s Restaurant in Lethbridge in April is now being investigated by police.
In the video, a woman and a group of men, who were sitting at an adjacent table, get into a verbal dispute over Canadian citizenship.
Monir Omerzai took the video in mid-April and posted it online on Tuesday evening after he was encouraged by friends to do so.
Omerzai and his friend, Mujtaba Abdul Ghafar, spoke with CTV Lethbridge on Wednesday about their experience and say they went to the restaurant to visit and share some food.
They say the woman, who was sitting at a nearby table, seemed uncomfortable with their presence and that she accused them of staring at her.
“We literally didn’t say anything to her she just looked at my friend and we were like ‘is everything okay?’ and she was like, ‘oh, you’re glaring at us’, you know, um we’re like, we’re not glaring, you’re the one that just looked over the table and she just started going off,” said Omerzai. “I was just shocked for them that’s why it was so funny for me to see that because you live in a country that, it’s multi-culturalism and everybody looks at everybody the same way. There’s nothing different about her and there’s nothing different about me.”
He says he has lived in Lethbridge for 13 years and has never experienced anything like this before.
“All the immigrants that they come here and they work hard, they basically start from scratch and nobody should be disrespected like that for no reason and it just makes me upset to see people come in there and start taking out things on you. It just makes you mad. I work hard and I pay taxes too.”
Omerzai says police were called and that officers said that they couldn’t do anything about the incident. He says they were then asked to leave the restaurant.
“The food just arrived, it was fresh and then we looked at the restaurant owner and then they told us we have to pack our food and leave now,” he said. “We were not intoxicated, we were not anything. We were just normal people going out there, being hungry.”
Omerzai and Ghafar have their own businesses and say they have received support from the community since sharing the video online.
“I showed it to my other friends and I just got encouraged to post it and I finally did it and it’s amazing how people, there’s a lot of good people with good hearts, that we can get supported by them and I appreciate every single one of them,” said Omerzai. “There’s always good people out there and I believe in that.”
Police in Lethbridge tweeted that they are aware of the incident and are looking into the matter.
Lethbridge Police Service is aware of the video that is being circulated on social media involving a verbal dispute that was recorded at a local restaurant. Lethbridge Police Service is looking into the matter at this time.— Lethbridge Police (@lethpolice) May 9, 2018
On Wednesday afternoon, Kelly Pocha, the woman who appeared in the video, confirmed to CTV that she had been terminated from her position with Cranbrook Dodge in Cranbrook, B.C.
Pocha released the following statement, posted in its entirety, to CTV Lethbridge:
I am releasing this statement with regards to the recent video that was released about me. My actions that night were in-excusable and unfortunately can not be taken back. There is however, a side that you are not seeing – and that is my side. What you did not see in the video is the racial comments and obscenities made at me by the four men involved. It’s unfortunate that no body gets to see that part, and what you are seeing in the video is my reaction to these comments. Yes, my lash back was inappropriate and racial, but I was merely standing up for myself as I was being disrespected that night. It is also disheartening to see that people are so quick to judge and make racial/ degrading comments about myself and my family without knowing the whole truth.
I would like to formally apologize to these men, as I did to the staff and management at Denny’s in Lethbridge two weeks ago for my actions. I am human, and I make mistakes.
My actions that night do not reflect who I am as a person, I am a hardworking mother of three and meant no harm by my actions. This has affected my employer as well, to the owner, management, and staff I am truly sorry.
I will be seeking professional help to work on me, to see this doesn’t happen again.
My sincere apologies to all involved.
To see the video that was posted to Facebook, click HERE. WARNING** The video contains language and content that some viewers may find offensive.
(With files from CTV Lethbridge)