Taco Bell Manager locks homeless man in dumpster….
Good News Rescue Mission officials are outraged after they say a downtown Redding Taco Bell manager ordered employees to lock a homeless man in the restaurant’s dumpster.
Sharre Whitson, the mission’s director of community relations, said the man was locked in the dumpster for more than an hour at the South Market Street restaurant on Saturday morning.
“We are very disturbed by the reported incident. It is unimaginable that anyone should be treated in this manner,” said mission Director Cesar Partida.
Whitson said a local high school boy, Jacob Cook, was waiting in line at the Taco Bell when he overheard an employee and manager talking about the homeless man.
“The store manager, according to Jacob, instructed the employee to lock the homeless man in the dumpster,” Whitson said.
But that manager, Darrin Hailey, said the story told by the mission – that’s since gone viral on Facebook – is completely wrong.
“It is extremely false,” he said. “The gentleman was sleeping in the dumpster. We simply closed the dumpster gates…per city ordinance. The dumpster itself was unlocked at all times. Nothing was locked…the lid has to remain closed or the city fines us a bunch of money.”
However, Jacob, 16, defended his story.
“Josh (the homeless man) was banging there and banging there,” Jacob said. “To say that this is not true is just appalling to me, and it’s honestly just sad.”
Jacob said he specifically saw the employee close the dumpster, which has a bar that puts the lid in place.
“The (employee)…was actually laughing and snickering,” Jacob recalled, still noticeably upset Monday morning.
“That would be locking one in, if they can’t open it,” Whitson said. “Not necessarily a padlock, but you can’t get out.”
Josh was in a dumpster for cardboard discards.
There is no cost to the business for recyclables collected by the city. Wet cardboard is a different matter.
The city charges a $42 fee on a 4-yard dumpster — per solid waste policy — if the cardboard is wet and has to be thrown out like regular trash, said Paul Clemens, Redding solid waste utilities manager.
And although the city acknowledges it does encourage businesses to keep their dumpsters closed and locked, there are no fines.
Whitson said Jacob reported hearing the man banging on the dumpster from the inside until police finally showed up.
“We understand that businesses are not always equipped to handle the growing needs of those who are homeless. However, the mission does have resources available to businesses and encourages business owners to refer individuals to the mission or contact authorities if there is a violation of the law,” she said.
Hailey denied that there was any kind of locking, though.
“The gates can be opened from in or outside,” he said. “There is no locking mechanism to it…I tried to tell him, he’s not locked in. “
According to Redding police logs, the incident was reported as Josh being “discovered by an employee of Taco Bell who closed and locked dumpster enclosure gate, trapping male inside and then threw a bag of trash over the enclosure on top of (him).”
Hailey said the downtown store gets many transients, but they don’t abuse them.
“I deal with transients all the time, and let me tell you what, we don’t abuse transients. We don’t do anything horrible to transients,” Hailey said. “For the most part, as long as they’re not harming anybody, I don’t ask them to leave. I have no control over somebody climbing in my dumpster and taking naps, and we’re not going to endanger ourselves by helping this person out. It’s just that kind of world. We call the police.”
Cases in which people climb into dumpsters are not uncommon in Redding.
There were at least three cases last year in which a city garbage truck picked up dumpsters with a person inside, Clemens said.
In one of those cases, the person ran away after crews pulled him out, and in another case, a fire engine responded.
“We don’t hear of it (from the crews) all the time,” Clemens said.
Last year, the Redding Merchants Crime Watch group, concerned about transients breaking into commercial dumpsters, asked Clemens to talk to its members.
Jacob said he just wants to find Josh again and get him help.
“A friendship has blossomed from this,” Jacob said.