The young waitress at the center of a disrespectful photo says she’s learned a tough lesson about the power of social media.
The photo of Rachel Ali flipping off a Harris County Sheriff’s patrol car has been shared thousands of times.
"It was a stupid decision to put it on social media," said Ali. "I regret posting it where people could see it. It was careless, but it was harmless."
The picture caught the attention of pro law enforcement groups. They learned she worked as a waitress at Los Cucos in Kingwood.
"They're disgusted, especially by seeing this happen so close to home," said Tom Moore, President of the Harris County Fraternal Order of Police.
The comments started pouring in online and on our Facebook page. The pressure began to build on Los Cucos to take action. By 11 Monday morning, they fired Ali.
"I think she's going to learn from her actions that's there's consequences and they're not all good," said Moore. "She needs to be unemployable in the service industry."
But now Ali is speaking out in her defense. She says she doesn't hate police.
"I've always treated them with respect," said Ali. "That couldn't be further from the truth, as far as hating cops."
She told KHOU the picture had been up on her Facebook since May 4. It was taken somewhere else months before she even started working at Los Cucos. That same night she took another photo too. She's seen waving a peace sign in front of the same patrol car.
"I'm not a bad person at all," said Ali. "I'm sorry people are taking it the wrong way."
She wants the public to know she's sorry. Her focus now is trying to get her job back.
"It's definitely ridiculous and completely blown way out of proportion," said Ali.