Philly police commissioner apologizes for Starbucks arrest

Police Commissioner Richard Ross Jr. apologizes to the two black men who were part of a controversial arrest at a Starbucks in Philadelphia last week.

Ross began by calling it "an unfortunate incident that has been in the news about this great city," adding that it's an incident he played "a significant role in making worse."

He said he should have said the officers acted within the scope of the law, not that they didn't do anything wrong.

Ross also said, while it may be a well-known fact to Starbucks customers, he wasn't aware that people often spend hours in their establishments and aren't necessarily expected to make a purchase.

"It's a widespread belief that everyone knows that about Starbucks. I'm here to tell you that I did not, and it is also reasonable to believe that the officers didn't know it either," he said, adding that that is on him.

In light of that, the police commissioner said it's easy to know why the two men were appalled when they were asked to leave.

"For this reason, me, I apologize to them," Ross said. “I should not at all be the person that is a party to making anything worse relative to race matters. Shame on me,” Ross added.

And the department has already completed a new policy to guide officers in how to deal with similar situations. They previously didn't have one, he added, because "it's nearly impossible to have a policy for every criminal or any other violation."

“There are still things we have to work on and it starts at the top and that starts with me. Messaging is important. I failed miserably. I am flawed like many other folks. But, that is still no excuse,” Commissioner Ross explained.

Ross wasn't discussing the policy yet, but said it will be pushed out at a later date.

VIDEO: Commissioner's opening remarks at news conference

The arrest sparked cries of racial discrimination after the video went viral around the world.

Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson, who met with the two men to apologize, announced this week that the company's 8,000 stores will close on May 29 so employees can go through racial bias training.

Bloomberg reports it could set the company back more than $16.5 million in sales. That's not much for the company, which made almost $22.5 billion last year.

The announcement came the same day Philadelphia police released that 9-1-1 call made by the Starbucks worker.

Mayor Jim Kenney also reflected on the arrest this week, saying it has been "a difficult couple of days."

"We are committed to equity, fairness, and changing the narrative about how people are viewed, and treated in this city, and hopefully in this country," Kenney said.