District Attorney for Onondaga County
Civic Center, 12th Fl.
421 Montgomery St.
Syracuse, NY 13202
fax: (315) 435-3912
On April 11, 1997, a Denny’s restaurant in Syracuse, NY allegedly refused to seat one Caucasian and six Asian- American students. After the students complained about denial of service, two security guards ejected them from the restaurant, and one guard allegedly pushed the students. Several white patrons, including a Christopher Warnock, then exited the restaurant, allegedly shouting racial slurs, and allegedly attacked some of the Asian- Americans. The security guards allegedly watched and did nothing to stop the attack.
D.A. Fitzpatrick did not investigate. Two of the County’s deputy sheriffs were moonlighting as security guards at Denny’s the evening of the attack. He dismissed the attack as a “brawl” between drunken patrons. The Asian- American party was outnumbered and independent medical evidence refutes the allegations that the victims were intoxicated.
In an unrelated incident, Christopher Warnock, one of the patrons who allegedly assaulted the students, was later charged with first degree manslaughter for kicking a man in the head while the victim lay on the ground in the parking lot of a nightclub. If D.A. Fitzpatrick had done his job and prosecuted Warnock for the Denny’s incident, a death could have been prevented.
The Asian- American Legal Defense Fund (“AALDEF”) pursued a civil lawsuit against the Denny’s franchise. In July 2000, the federal court granted summary judgment for Denny’s, thus dismissing the lawsuit. In 2001, the appellate court denied the students’ appeal.