A 26-year-old Black man from Burlington City said he was pinned to the ground with a knee in his abdomen by a white security guard who commanded a trained security dog to bite him repeatedly outside a popular Deptford restaurant and nightclub early Thursday morning.
The attack, which started as an altercation about the man’s baseball cap, is under investigation by Deptford police.
Captured in an apparent partial video of the episode, the man, Khalif Hunter, is seen walking away from the unidentified security guard in the parking lot of Adelphia Restaurant & Events around 1 a.m. Thursday. Hunter is then heard calling the guard a racist.
At that point, the guard rushes Hunter with the dog in tow, and Hunter grabs at the dog’s leash to defend himself.
But, Hunter said in an interview Sunday, the video depicts just a fraction of what occurred, and doesn’t show the guard issuing the dog an order — “Live bite!” — several times as Hunter was already prone and not moving.
Also unseen is the dog biting Hunter three times on the lower right calf and once on the inner right thigh, he said.
Nor can another security guard, also with a dog of his own, be heard saying, “That was uncalled for,” as Hunter alleged.
Neither the owner nor lawyer for Adelphia responded to texts and phone calls on Sunday.
“This will have lingering effects on me,” said Hunter, who grew up in Camden and graduated from Rutgers University in 2018. He works for Aveanna Healthcare in Trevose, scheduling and opening home health-care cases.
“My reasons behind calling the man racist were, if you’re already subdued and on the ground, that should be the end of it,” Hunter said. “But the man kept yelling, “Live bite!” There had to be another motivating factor, like racism.”
On Sunday, Tom Gilbert, acting chief of detectives and public information officer for the Gloucester County Prosecutor’s Office in Woodbury, said no one had been arrested in the case.
He added, “The Deptford Police Department handled the initial response that day, and our office will be involved in working with police to collect facts and videos and then see if charges are warranted.” He declined to comment further.
A person answering the phone at the Deptford Police Department on Sunday afternoon said that no one would be available to discuss the case until Monday.
Demonstrators gathered outside Adelphia on Friday and Saturday nights, and promise to be there every subsequent weekend, telling would-be diners and club revelers about the alleged episode, as well as showing the video.
“I’m the one bringing protesters in from Camden,” said activist Gary Frazier. “And I can intensify this situation.”
Frazier said he’s demanding an apology for the attack from Adelphia, which has so far apologized only to its customers for the presence of demonstrators in a Facebook post: “Over the past few days, persons with no connection to Adelphia have tried to disrupt our events and dining experience. ... We sincerely apologize for any distractions to your Adelphia experience ... .”
Meanwhile, Tyrus Ballard, first vice president of the Southern Burlington County chapter of the NAACP, who was also at one of the demonstrations, said he wanted to know, “What kind of restaurant has an attack unit with a dog in its parking lot?”
Connecting the Adelphia episode to the viral video of Edward Cagney Mathews antagonizing Black neighbors in Mount Laurel and hurling racial epithets, Ballard lamented that “we still have a lot of issues in South Jersey.”
Hunter said the lawyer for the restaurant told him Adelphia would pay his medical bills. “After what happened,” Hunter said he told him, “that’s the least you should offer to do.”
In 2017, civil rights groups condemned an episode at Adelphia involving a costume at a Halloween party that included a noose, a symbol of intimidation to Black Americans, that wound up in a photograph that went viral on social media. It led to a resolution between officials of the Gloucester County NAACP and the restaurant.
Reacting to events, Hunter’s mother, Tamika Hollywood, who posted the video from an unknown witness on her Facebook page, wrote, “I am in a rage if you know how I feel about my kids. I need a lawyer now!!” Hunter said he’s retained one.
Asked to recount his versions of events, Hunter said the following:
He was in Adelphia with two friends early Thursday when an employee asked him to remove his blue-and-red Boston Red Sox cap. He complied.
At some point, Hunter walked outside onto a deck, where he put his cap back on. An employee said he should take it off and bring it to the lobby, where the cap could be stored. In the lobby, Hunter said he mentioned to an employee that many other men were wearing caps.
Soon, an employee asked him to leave. Hunter said he doesn’t know why. He agreed to go, but said he had to phone his friends, who were farther inside the club. He was their ride, and he wanted them to know he’d be outside.
One friend’s phone was dead and Hunter tried dialing the other’s. Hunter could see his friends from where he was standing in the lobby, but they hadn’t noticed him. Fearing that his second friend’s phone might also be dead, Hunter didn’t want to go until he got the man’s attention.
But the employee and a colleague told Hunter to get out and “began getting handsy,” Hunter said. Soon, one of the employees locked him in a wrestling hold, he said, and pushed him outside. The two fell down four or five stairs.
At that point, Hunter said, a private security guard employed by Adelphia who was holding a dog on a leash in the parking lot yelled, “Bite him! Attack!”
Then, “the guard jumped on me and put his knee in my abdomen. I was on the ground and the guy was telling the dog, “Live bite!” The dog started biting.
People broke up the attack, and another security guard said the use of the dog was “uncalled for.”
As Hunter was walking away from the guard who attacked him, he cursed the man, who quickly ran after Hunter with the dog. A second attacked ensued. “He had me in a headlock this time,” Hunter said. “And I was grabbing the dog’s leash to get it off of me.” One of Hunter’s friends pulled the security guard away.
Hunter said he then went home, and drove himself to Virtua Hospital in Willingboro the next morning. He said he received three shots for rabies and tetanus, but didn’t require stitches.
Hunter added that police told him he was considered the victim, and that the guard who allegedly attacked him was under investigation.
He won’t discuss any possible legal action he might take. Hunter added only, “Physically, I’m still in pain from the bites, and my wrist is sprained. Mentally, it’s an adjustment you have to make after being attacked like that.”
Staff writer Melanie Burney contributed to this article.