Journalist, cameraman Allegedly Assaulted By Denny's Employees For Questions Over Failed Health Inspection

Denny's waitress Hirut Bizuneh prepares to deliver free Grand Slam breakfasts to customers February 3, 2009 in Emeryville, California. People lined up at Denny's across North America today for a free Grand Slam breakfast given away between 6am and 2pm at over 1,500 Denny's restaurants in the US, Puerto Rico and Canada. The promotion was announced during a Super Bowl commercial. Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Three employees at a Georgia Denny's are under scrutiny after allegedly assaulting a journalist who was at the restaurant to question the location about failing a recent inspection by the state health department.

WGCL-TV reporter Adam Murphy and photographer Dimitri Lotovski from the CBS affiliate caught the encounter on tape and the tv station broadcast some of the footage during their newscast on Friday.

According to an inspection from the Georgia Department of Public Health, the Denny's location received a grade of unsatisfactory on an inspection that occurred on April 30. The Lithonia, Georgia store was awarded 52 points out of a possible 100 points and given a risk level of 3 - the highest issued.

Previous inspections, conducted in May 2018 and October 2017, saw the location issued a B (84 points) and an A (93 points) rating.

Violations observed during inspection included food not being properly separated or protected, food not being stored in covered containers and surfaces that came into contact with food not being cleaned or properly sanitized.

None of the employees who spoke to Murphy and Lotovski have been identified, but raw footage shared by the tv station shows the men being told to leave the premises when they entered the restaurant and the threat of calling the police.

"Don't put the camera in my face! I'm going to call the police," an unidentified female employee told the men before she and another employee pushed them out of the restaurant.

A third employee, also a female, then exited the restaurant with her son and slapped at the camera while she cursed at Murphy.

"My son right here. If you film me with that f****** camera I'm going to knock you're a** out. And I f****** promise you that. My f******* son right here son. Don't do that s*** because I'll knock your a** out. I don't give a f***. My son right here you b**** a*** n****," the woman said, her words captured on camera.

While police were later called, the responding officers from the DeKalb County police informed the employees that the journalists were allowed to be at the Denny's location, the tv station said.

Speaking to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Murphy said the encounter was one of the most violent he has ever experienced in 17 years of reporting for the station's "Restaurant Report Card" segment.

"We've had a hand in the camera before, but not numerous punches like that. It was the most violent encounter I've ever experienced," Murphy said.

The station did not file charges against the employees for the alleged assault of Murphy and Lotovski, but they did send the footage of the encounter to Denny's headquarters in South Carolina.

Denny's responded to the station with a statement that said in part, "We are disappointed by the inappropriate and unacceptable behavior of the employees. We have spoken to the franchisee at this location and he has taken immediate action to ensure the restaurant meets our high brand standards and has taken appropriate action with employees."

The restaurant chain did not say if the employees had been disciplined or if they were fired. However, Murphy told the AJC that he plans to follow up on the story.