Forest Whitaker gets apology: NY deli owner calls frisking 'sincere mistake'
Oscar-winning actor Forest Whitaker recently received an apology from a New York City deli owner after one of his employees accused the actor of shoplifting and frisked him.
The 51-year-old actor visited the Milano Market on Friday, February 15, and was stopped by an employee as he was walking out. The employee, who was not named, accused him of shoplifting and proceeded to pat down Whitaker, according to a report by The New York Daily News.
Another employee of the store was quoted in the newspaper's story as saying that the employee who frisked Whitaker "apologized immediately" and in the 14 years he has been employed at the store "nothing like this has ever happened."
Whitaker's spokesperson confirmed the incident occurred and told The New York Daily News, "This was an upsetting incident given the fact that Forest did nothing more than walk into the deli."
Anthony Galofaro, the owner of Milano Market, gave an interview on TMZ Live on Monday, February 19, about the incident and apologized to Whitaker. The interview can be seen below.
"First of all I would like to apologize on behalf of my employee that confronted Mr. Whitaker and wrongly accused him of shoplifting," Galofaro said. "This is not a reflection of the team at Milano or the management who [will] take steps to ensure that nothing like this will ever happen again."
"Furthermore I would like to make a donation to a charity of Mr. Whitaker's choice," he added.
Galofaro said the employee who frisked Whitaker was "no longer with the company" and that the incident was not driven by race.
"We have a lot of black customers who [are] our friends and they know better and we know better. We don't do business like that," he said. "It hurts me more than anything else what I've been hearing in the papers."
Whitaker has not publicly commented on the incident.
The actor and director is known for his roles in "The Crying Game," "Panic Room," "Bird" and "The Last King of Scotland." The latter role earned him an Oscar for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in 2007. He has also had recurring roles on TV series like "Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior," "The Shield" and "ER."
Whitaker has a few roles lined up including a lead role in the upcoming movie "The Butler." The movie is based on the true story of Eugene Allen, a man who served as a White house employee for 34 years before his retirement in 1986. Allen saw eight first families during his time at the White House, which began in 1952.
"The Butler" was inspired by a Washington Post article about Allen published in 2008. Allen died of renal failure in 2010.
The film was directed by "Precious" director Lee Daniels and Whitaker plays the titular butler. Oprah Winfrey will appear as his wife. It will be Winfrey's first film acting role since the 1998 film "Beloved." The film does not currently have a release date.
Check out the TMZ interview with Anthony Galofaro, the owner of Milano Market, below.