An online dispute surrounding an unidentified police officer in Oklahoma and a local Starbucks took a turn in late November 2019 when someone claiming to be related to the officer’s supervisor chimed in on the side of police critics.
“This is my father and I’d like to say that he is absolutely a pig and I’d like to thank the brave men and women from Starbucks for their service,” the woman wrote over a tweet about Kiefer, Oklahoma police chief Johnny O’Mara.
O’Mara and his department had become the subjects of news coverage after he posted a photograph on his department’s Facebook page showing a Starbucks cup labeled “Pig,” a common slang term deriding officers.
It is unclear whether the young woman criticizing O’Mara is actually his daughter; neither she nor Kiefer police responded to requests for comment.
O’Mara said that the label was attached to five cups in a mobile order the officer picked up on November 28, 2019. (He would later delete the post.) Starbucks fired the barista who prepared the labels and also released a statement:
This is absolutely unacceptable, and we are deeply sorry to the law enforcement officer who experienced this. We have also apologized directly to him and connected with the Chief of the Kiefer Police Department as well to express our remorse. The Starbucks partner who wrote this offensive word on a cup used poor judgement and is no longer a partner after this violation of company policy. This language is offensive to all law enforcement and is not representative of the deep appreciation we have for police officers who work tirelessly to keep our communities safe.
As the story spread, former Starbucks workers argued online that O’Mara and his officers may have fabricated the story, saying that Starbucks’ online pickup system would not allow employees to generate the name attached to an order.
However Tulsa news outlet KTUL-TV reported that the officer who picked up the order said that he did not have the mobile account necessary to generate that label and paid for the beverages in person with his debit card.
“After she called and apologized, I do believe it was a joke,” the station quoted the officer as saying:
I don’t believe the employees nor Starbucks were attacking law enforcement. I feel like we need to lay the rumors down and get past this. We have more important things to worry about.
The manager on duty at the time of the purchase, Lola Price, was also fired. She told KTUL that her termination was unwarranted. She also said that the officer who picked up the order “laughed it off” and that she resumed her work without incident at the time of the encounter. “Starbucks was looking for someone to take the blame for this and to save some face from their company,” she said.
Since her firing, a fundraising campaign was posted online featuring a photograph of Price, though it identifies her as “Lola Mae Rose.” The fundraiser says, “This campaign was originally started by a friend of mine, his name is Chapman, I now have sole access to the account, and these funds are truly making a difference in my situation.”
Meanwhile, O’Mara has requested that the barista who gave his officer the original order be rehired by Starbucks.
“We start civility by forgiving minor indiscretions and using those moments to help people better themselves,” he said in a statement.