Family says movie theater called police after they got refund

A family says a movie theater called the police on them after the dad got a refund and then tried to get his kids so they could leave.

FOX 29's Sabina Kuriakose has the story.

The video shows family movie night ending with dad Ismael Jimenez surrounded by Philadelphia police officers.

The high school history teacher says his four sons--ages 3 to 11--were so frightened by the police presence that his eldest began vomiting in the bathroom.

So what happened? According to the dad, it started with an incessant, loud noise that didn't let up after the movie began.

"It sounded like when you have your seatbelt off that type of beeping," he said. "At first we thought it was in the movie."

After speaking with the general manager Ismael says the beeping still didn't stop. He and his wife left their seats and got their money back. Their three children and two friends were still inside.

"We said thank you and said now we're going to get our children. He said no you can't re-enter the theater you have to leave. We're like we're not going to leave, we have to get our children to leave and he said 'No, right now.'"

Ismael says staff made no offer to get the children themselves or escort the parents. So his wife who is a social worker went back inside to get her children. The movie theater called police. Within minutes Ismael says as many as ten officers surrounded the family.

Eventually, one of the officers stepped forward and calmed the tension, according to Ismael. He and his wife gathered their children and left. They believe the white manager called police on a black family for something staff could have easily dealt with.

"We did nothing wrong. All we wanted to do was get our children and leave," Ismael said. "I am a history teacher and I'm fully aware of the gravity of escalating a situation."

Philadelphia police say they did respond to a disturbance on the 4000 block of Walnut Street.

A spokesperson from Cinemark released the following statement:

"On Friday evening, members of the Jimenez family informed theatre management about an unidentified beeping noise emanating from outside our building that was disturbing the presentation of the movie. Upon their request, we issued full refunds to the family for their tickets as well as their concession purchases. There was an erroneous social media report that mentioned the family was not permitted to return to the auditorium to retrieve their children. At no time was the family restricted access to their children.

A Philadelphia police officer, who was working security at the theatre, was monitoring the situation and requested additional police presence. Eventually, one of the officers calmed the situation and the family left the theatre. We regret that the family did not have a good movie-going experience. We welcome them back at any time."