I-Team: Wife says officer husband was denied service at Cafe Rio

LAS VEGAS - An employee at restaurant chain Cafe Rio refused to serve two Metro police officers in uniform Saturday evening.

Heather Tusko is the wife of one of those officers. She spoke to the I-Team and described how it's hard enough being the wife of a police officer because of the danger they face every single day; now she is also concerned about disrespect.

"Understand that they're not all bad guys, you know.  They're people," said Tusko.

Tusko told the I-team her husband has been a Metro Police officer for nearly 25 years now, and has never been refused service.  She describe the incident.

"It was a younger African-American; he said maybe like 18 to 20, Tusko said her husband told her.  "He just kind of put his hands down on the counter and then put his head down and wouldn't engage them."

Scott Nicholas is the vice president of the Las Vegas Police Protective Association, a union that represents Metro Police officers, and he said he doesn't think that refusal to serve the officer was about race, but more about the badge.

"The sad part is these two cops would lay their life down on the line for the same kid five minutes after the situation if they had to," said Nicholas.

Tusko said another employee finished the order, but no one apologized to the officers.

The I-Team contacted Cafe Rio's headquarters in Salt Lake City, and an executive said someone from corporate would be visiting the store to sort out what happened that night. He also said the company has nothing but respect for police and firefighters.

When the I-Team visited the southwest location of Cafe Rio located on Durango near the 215 Monday, reporter Vanessa Murphy was told that the employee was still employed at the restaurant.

Manager in Training Justin Castillo said he's concerned by the treatment.

I-Team Reporter Vanessa Murphy: "What do you want to say to those two officers?"
Castillo: "I want to say, you know,  I'm completely sorry and my condolences; my apologies. Come back! We'll take care of you.  We'll show you the 100 percent amount of respect that they deserve.  I'd make the food for them with my own two hands if that what's needed."

Cafe Rio responded to one of the officers' complaints with an email offering four free meals.  Nicholes of LVPPA said although the climate for police can be tense, people do reach out and show their support.


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