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FOX61 EXCLUSIVE: Retired New Haven officer says he was racially discriminated against at Starbucks

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NEW HAVEN -- A retired New Haven police officer spoke out for the first time Thursday claiming he was racially discriminated by Starbucks in 2013.

The officer said he has been holding it in for several years, but now that the Philadelphia incident has started the conversation, he felt now was the right time to share his story. 

It was October 2013 when officer Jeffrey Fletcher stepped inside the Starbucks at the corner of Chapel and Church Streets with his fellow officers as he was out on his patrol beat.

Fletcher needed to use the bathroom so he asked the barista for the key. He said he had to ask three times until the barista gave him a response.

"She looked at me and said 'I'm sorry. I don't have the key.' And at that point, I said to her, 'where is it?' and she said 'it's in the safe,'" said Fletcher.

Fletcher said he went to a business next door to use the bathroom instead. When he went back to Starbucks to meet his colleagues, one of them asked why he did not use the bathroom inside Starbucks.

"He looked at me and used the expletive BS and said 'that's really strange. She gave this white guy just before you came in the key to the bathroom,'" added Fletcher.

While he felt humiliated and angered, Fletcher said he confronted the barista and said she ignored him and walked away.

"I can't believe this was happening," added Fletcher.

Fletcher said he was too upset to reunite with his colleagues and instead went out to his patrol car. He Googled Starbucks' complaint line and told his story over the phone. The person on the phone said the company would assign him a case number for his complaint.

One week went by and Fletcher said he had not heard anything so he called to follow-up to get a response he did not like.

"There wasn't anybody that was a white female that was working on the date and time that you stayed," added Fletcher.

That is when Fletcher told Starbucks he would get an attorney. It was after that the company immediately admitted the barista did work there, but she quit when confronted by management about the incident.

Starbucks later sent Fletcher a non-disclosure agreement and said "for a goodwill gesture, we can compensate you $3,000."

"This is not about the money. It's not about the dollars. It's about acknowledging the wrong and how do we move forward to not let this happen again?" added Fletcher.

Fletcher later chose to dismiss the lawsuit because his witness who was also a fellow officer was going through personal problems, so he did not want to add on the stress of having him testify.

Ironically, Fletcher collects memorabilia from the Civil Rights Movement which has been a constant reminder of that incident.

"I will do this until I can't anymore. This is the image of America," added Fletcher.

FOX61 reached out to Starbucks Wednesday and Thursday multiple times by phone and email, but still did not receive a response.

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