HERNANDO, Miss. — A popular Hernando restaurant temporarily closed Thursday and the owner is stepping down amid backlash over the way he allegedly treated a police officer there taking an accident report.
For more than 70 years, Velvet Cream has been where countless people have come to cool down with ice cream.
“We’ve been there many times,” Tammi Lawrence said.
But Saturday night, Lawrence said it was Velvet Cream’s owner, Thomas Flinn, who needed to do some cooling down.
“He had a clipboard in his hand, and he was kind of throwing his hands up, and he was screaming,” Lawrence said.
Lawrence’s car had just been hit in the parking lot, and Hernando police officer Hosie Porter was there taking her statement.
That’s when she said Flinn approached.
“He’s coming there, and he said, ‘Get off my property. I demand that you get off my property.’ And I’m looking, like, ‘Is he talking to me?’ and he was talking to officer Porter,” Lawrence said.
Hernando Police confirmed their officer was asked to leave but said he was there lawfully, and therefore didn’t comply.
Flinn’s son Trey told WREG his father wasn’t aware there had been an accident, and he didn’t know why police were there.
“I think he was probably confused about the situation,” said Trey Flinn, adding that “led to maybe a heightened temper or asking them to leave.”
“He deeply regrets his temper flaring that night,” he added.
Velvet Cream closed Thursday afternoon after he said his father and employees had received death threats.
“The way that officer was treated wasn’t right,” Lawrence said.
Later Thursday evening, Velvet Cream posted on Facebook that Thomas Flinn would be stepping down, and the plan is for Trey to take over the shop.
Porter got a less hostile reception when he came on duty Thursday evening. A handful of citizens gathered outside the police department to show their support.
“It ain’t about me,” Porter said. “I ain’t looking for no ‘A’ for the day just for me doing my job. I just do it for the citizens of Hernando.”
Flinn said his father has tried calling Porter to apologize but hasn’t been able to get through. He said he planned to keep trying, but couldn’t say when Velvet Cream might reopen.