A group of Pennsylvania police officers managed to turn a negative situation into a positive one with one kind act.
Officer Chuck Thomas of the Homestead Borough Police Department, located near Pittsburgh, was having dinner with three colleagues at Eat'n Park on Friday, the day after five police officers were shot and killed in Dallas, when a couple entered the restaurant and made it clear they didn't want to sit anywhere near the officers, Thomas told TODAY.
"We were seated at the back of the restaurant and the server went to seat a couple across from us at a table, and it was a male and a female, and they made eye contact and he said, 'I'm not sitting there, I don't want to sit there,'" said Thomas, 29.
The couple moved to a table farther from the officers, but Thomas and his colleagues were unsettled, he said.
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"It was obvious they didn't want anything to do with the police," he said. "It irritated me because we didn't do anything to this guy. He doesn't know me. I've never arrested him — neither have any of my partners."
So Thomas, who's only worked for Homestead police for three weeks, did something the couple likely didn't expect: He picked up their tab, even adding a $10 tip for the server.
"I wanted to break the tension and say, we're human, too," he said. "And we want to be treated as such. We're not all bad guys. We're here for the public. We're here for you. We're public servants, bottom line."
He also wrote a message to the couple on their receipt: "Sir, your check was paid for by the police officers that you didn't want to sit next to. Thank you for your support."
Thomas left before he got to see the couple's reaction to his paying their tab, but another officer who went back to use the restroom saw them reading the note, he said.
"The guy looked at him, laughed a little bit, and said thanks," Thomas said.
Last week, police shot and killed two African-American men in separate incidents in Minnesota and Louisiana, and shortly after, a sniper shot and killed five police officers in Dallas during a protest march.
"The attitude that's going on right now is everyone against the police, or the police against the community, and that's not how it's supposed to be," Thomas said.