Three members of the same family have been arrested for allegedly assaulting a teenage Chili’s hostess because they were not allowed to be seated together due to coronavirus distancing rules.
Tammy Dabney, 48, was charged with aggravated second-degree battery, and Rodneka Dabney, 27, and Erica Dabney, 46, were booked on counts of disturbing the peace and simple battery, Baton Rouge police announced on Thursday.
The 17-year-old hostess, Kelsy Wallace, told news outlets she was working at a Baton Rouge Chili’s last weekend when a party of 11 people arrived and wanted to be seated together. She said the restaurant’s coronavirus policies stipulated no more than six people could be seated at a table.
When Wallace told the group they couldn’t be seated all together, they became irate, she said. When she brought her manager over, the group of women attacked the teen, she said, adding they pushed her and began beating her and pulling fistfulls of hair out of her scalp.
The worker said she was trying to defend herself when one woman hit her with a ‘wet floor’ sign near her eye, leaving her bleeding.
The victim received moderate injuries and sought treatment at a hospital, Baton Rouge police spokesman Sgt. Don Coppola Jr. said Wednesday. Surveillance video was obtained by police and the teen filed a police report, news outlets reported.
A portion of the brawl was also caught on cellphone video and shared online. It shows an irate woman in a face mask yelling obscenities and being held back by a young man.
Tammy and Erica Dabney were booked into the East Baton Rouge jail. Rodneka Dabney was issued a summons.
According to a GoFundMe campaign that was launched to help Wallace, the 17-year-old honors student took a job as a hostess at the Chili’s on Constitution Avenue in Baton Rouge in June to help her parents and save up for college.
On August 9, the high school senior was at work when she was allegedly attacked by a dozen women.
‘I couldn’t believe, like over two for 25s, and three for 10s, I got attacked,’ she said to WAFB.
Chili’s has a policy where large groups aren’t allowed to sit together in their restaurants.
‘My general manager and my other managers tell us we cannot sit a table bigger than six because of the corona[virus]. We are supposed to separate them,’ said Wallace.
But as the straight A student tried to explain the chain’s policy to the group, they immediately became agitated with her.
‘And they got upset, so the first thing I did was go get my manager,’ said Wallace, a student at Broadmoor Senior High School.
Wallace retrieved her manager and stood behind them as the party began hurling insults at her.
As she shouted back at them, she says they then made the first move.
The teen said: ‘But then one girl come and she just hit me; we just started fighting. And all everybody who they was with just started hitting me, and the lady who pushed me first, she takes the wet floor sign, cocks back, and hits me with it in my eye.’
By the time the Baton Rouge Police Department arrived to the scene, all of the women had already fled the scene in their cars.
According to the description of the online fundraiser started by her family, Wallace had to get stitches above her eye, suffered hair loss from having her tresses pull out of her scalp and had several broken nails.
‘Kelsy is afraid to return to her job as a hostess as a result of this attack,’ the GoFundMe page stated.
‘I was just trying to follow the rules and make sure that I wasn’t going to get in trouble,’ she said. ‘Like this is just overwhelming. I just cannot believe that this happened to me of all people.’
Wallace, who is a licensed EMT and aspires to become a medical doctor, has no intention on returning back to the restaurant. She will be attending Xavier University in the fall.
A representative from Chili’s released a statement about the ordeal.
‘We care deeply for every ChiliHead and are disappointed by the incident that took place at our Baton Rouge Chili’s on August 9. We do not tolerate violent behavior in our restaurants, and are taking this incident very seriously as the safety and health of our Team Members and Guests is our top priority,’ the statement read.
‘Following this unprovoked attack, we immediately provided medical attention to our Team Member and called the local police department who is looking into this situation. We have made several attempts to contact the impacted Team Member and her family since the incident to provide support, but unfortunately have not received any response.’