PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Philadelphia’s police commissioner on Saturday defended officers who arrested two black men at a Starbucks, prompting accusations of racism on social media, concern from the mayor and an apology from the company.

Videos posted online show officers handcuffing the men in the downtown establishment on Thursday. A white man in the video is heard saying he was meeting with the men and calls the arrest “ridiculous.”

Commissioner Richard Ross said Starbucks employees called 911 to say the men were trespassing. He said officers were told that the men had come in and asked to use the restroom but were denied because they hadn’t bought anything, as he said is company policy. He said they then refused to leave.

Ross, who is black, said police asked the men to leave three times but they refused, and they were then arrested but were later released after the company elected not to prosecute. He said the officers “did absolutely nothing wrong” and were professional in their conduct toward the individuals but “got the opposite back.” He did not mention the person who said he was meeting with the men.

“As an African American male, I am very aware of implicit bias; we are committed to fair and unbiased policing,” Ross said. But he added “If a business calls and they say that ‘Someone is here that I no longer wish to be in my business’ (officers) now have a legal obligation to carry out their duties and they did just that.”

Starbucks posted an apology on Twitter Saturday, saying the company was “disappointed this led to an arrest” and was reviewing its policies.

“We take these matters seriously and clearly have more work to do when it comes to how we handle incidents in our store,” the company said in a statement Saturday afternoon.

Ross said he doesn’t patronize Starbucks but recalled an incident from a few years ago in which a uniformed sergeant was denied access to a Starbucks bathroom “so they are at least consistent in their policy.”

Mayor Jim Kenney said he asked the city Commission on Human Relations to examine the company’s policies and procedures “including the extent of, or need for, implicit bias training for its employees.”

“I am heartbroken to see Philadelphia in the headlines for an incident that — at least based on what we know at this point — appears to exemplify what racial discrimination looks like in 2018,” Kenney said in a statement.

Kenney said a review promised by police of policies in similar situations “is fully warranted given the unfortunate outcome of this event, particularly at a time when our criminal justice reform efforts are focused on avoiding needless incarcerations.”

Attorney Lauren Wimmer told The Philadelphia Inquirer that the men, who she did not identify, were commercial real estate professionals and were meeting with the another man to discuss business. She identified herself as a friend of the man they were meeting with.

A spokesman for the district attorney’s office said the two black men were released “because of lack of evidence” that a crime had been committed, but declined further comment, citing a police investigation.

UPDATE:

Starbucks ceo: Reprehensible outcome in Philadelphia incident

Dear Starbucks Partners and Customers:

By now, you may be aware of a disheartening situation in one of our Philadelphia-area stores this past Thursday, that led to a reprehensible outcome.

I’m writing this evening to convey three things:

First, to once again express our deepest apologies to the two men who were arrested with a goal of doing whatever we can to make things right.  Second, to let you know of our plans to investigate the pertinent facts and make any necessary changes to our practices that would help prevent such an occurrence from ever happening again.  And third, to reassure you that Starbucks stands firmly against discrimination or racial profiling.

In the coming days, I will be joining our regional vice president, Camille Hymes—who is on the ground in Philadelphia—to speak with partners, customers and community leaders as well as law enforcement.  Most importantly, I hope to meet personally with the two men who were arrested to offer a face-to-face apology.

We have immediately begun a thorough investigation of our practices.  In addition to our own review, we will work with outside experts and community leaders to understand and adopt best practices.  The video shot by customers is very hard to watch and the actions in it are not representative of our Starbucks Mission and Values.  Creating an environment that is both safe and welcoming for everyone is paramount for every store.  Regretfully, our practices and training led to a bad outcome—the basis for the call to the Philadelphia police department was wrong.  Our store manager never intended for these men to be arrested and this should never have escalated as it did.

We also will further train our partners to better know when police assistance is warranted.  Additionally, we will host a company-wide meeting next week to share our learnings, discuss some immediate next steps and underscore our long-standing commitment to treating one another with respect and dignity.  I know our store managers and partners work hard to exceed our customers’ expectations every day—which makes this very poor reflection on our company all the more painful.

Finally, to our partners who proudly wear the green apron and to customers who come to us for a sense of community every day: You can and should expect more from us.  We will learn from this and be better.

Respectfully,

Kevin Johnson

ceo