On the night of July 27, diners at San Antonio’s Fogo de Chão Brazilian Steakhouse witnessed the restaurant’s manager asking a local police officer to leave, citing a “no gun” policy.
A San Antonio police sergeant, wearing his soft uniform, a badge and carrying his duty weapon, joined his family at the steakhouse for a birthday dinner, according to a description of the incident that a diner posted to Facebook.
“After about 30 minutes he was approached by the Manager and asked to leave,” read the post. “The manager stated it’s their corporate policy that ‘No Guns’ are allowed inside the establishment.”
Although the SAPD officer argued that such rules only apply to concealed carriers and don’t affect law enforcement agents, the manager insisted that he should leave.
The sergeant then asked if he would still be asked to leave, not as a police officer on duty, but as a customer who was trying to eat. He was replied with a “yes.”
“The Sgt accepted the managers’ request and left the establishment as his family stayed behind to sing happy birthday to the family member,” said the post.
Detective Mike Helle, president of the San Antonio Police Officers Association, told KSAT that he believed the incident happened simply because the restaurant’s manager was ignorant of the law.
“I am afraid that it boils down to education,” Helle said. “I would like to think they are not anti-police or that that individual who asked him to leave is not anti-police, but I think he probably wasn’t educated on what the law allows or doesn’t allow.”
Apparently, the state law of Texas allows police officers—whether on active duty or not— to dine at restaurants while carrying their weapons.
According to the law:
An establishment serving the public may not prohibit or otherwise restrict a peace officer or special investigator from carrying on the establishment’s premises a weapon that the peace officer or special investigator is otherwise authorized to carry, regardless of whether the peace officer or special investigator is engaged in the actual discharge of the officer’s or investigator’s duties while carrying the weapon.
The law applies to hotels, motels, places of lodging, restaurants, retail businesses, sports venues, and pretty much all public places that are open to the general public.
Meanwhile, Fogo de Chão has apologized for the incident, sharing a statement with KSAT:
“We sincerely apologize to the San Antonio Police Department and the officer in question for the incident that occurred at our restaurant last night. Unfortunately, a member of our team made the wrong call. We are working hard to address and correct this unfortunate lapse in judgment. We will address the policy internally and make sure our team members are clear. We support, respect, and appreciate everything our law enforcement does to keep each and every one of us safe, day in and day out.”
“They kind of made a boo-boo on this one, and the officer could have held his ground, but he didn’t because he didn’t want to cause a scene,” Helle said. He added that he is hoping the restaurant’s mistake will educate the community and businesses about police officers’ right to openly carry firearms on certain premises.