A Black shopper walked away vindicated after he was falsely accused of shoplifting $600 worth of merchandise from a shoe store inside the Stonebriar Centre mall in Frisco, Texas, last week.
Ro Lockett posted viral video of him and his friend, Brian Kibart, being detained by police shortly after leaving Finish Line on Wednesday. Lockett, 28, said he thought a woman who complimented his children as he shopped at the store, then wound up behind them at a T-Mobile store, was trying to shoot her shot.
It turns out the woman, a Finish Line employee, had followed him because she thought he was stealing.
“I’m just a dad out with his kids, buying things for them from several stores,” Lockett told The Dallas Morning News. “And all of a sudden I’m in handcuffs.”
According to a Frisco police report, the employee believed the pair had swiped hundreds of dollars worth of items from the sporting goods store. A Frisco policeman was there waiting to arrest Lockett and his friend as they were leaving another store at the mall in the Dallas-Fort Worth suburb.
“We had just walked out of Champs, and a Frisco police officer told us to drop our bags,” recalled Kibart, who is white. “There was no resistance. We just did as we were told.”
In the video, the two men stand handcuffed in the middle of the mall for several minutes as the Finish Line employee rummages through their shopping bags for evidence. Her search turned up nothing from Finish Line, however, and nothing the friends hadn’t already paid for.
One of Lockett’s sons stands idly by as his father is surrounded by officers. Lockett’s other son is behind the camera, recording the 7-minute video. The Dallas man said his kids, ages 8 and 10, were searched too, on the assumption that they might be smuggling some of the items Lockett and Kibart had allegedly stolen.
“She’s just making herself look more and more ignorant,” Lockett says as the woman continues examining the contents of their bags.
“Embarrassing,” Kibart chimes in.
Officers ultimately let the men go after they shows receipts for all of their items.
“My friend and myself were humiliated and victimized based on an assumption that we had stolen merchandise,” Lockett wrote on his YouTube channel, CreedCrudeTV. “Thank GOD, I remembered ‘the talk’ that I was taught as a child: that being Black, I’m presumed guilty until proven innocent in America … something I never understood or felt applied to me until this.”
On Saturday, the Frisco Police Department announced the incident was under review.
“The Frisco Police Department is aware of the video circulating online and the questions that have been raised,” the department said in a statement. “Through our long-standing contacts with local community leaders, we have been in contact with one of the involved parties, Mr. Lockett, and have attempted to contact the other, Mr. Kibart. Mr. Lockett was given information on how to file a formal complaint and we encourage both parties to do so.”
“This incident highlights the importance of ‘comply now, complain later,'” it continued. “By all accounts it appears that this is what Mr. Lockett and Mr. Kibart have done, which gives us the opportunity to evaluate our response to determine what happened, and if there is opportunity for improvement.”
The Collin County chapter of the NAACP has also stepped in, saying it will monitor the situation and move forward after receiving more information.
Lockett and Kibart have since hired a lawyer who questioned authorities’ decision to let the employee search the men’s bags rather than police. Frisco PD explained that shoplifters tend to hide their stolen goods in bags from other stores and that the employee was simply trying to recover what she thought was stolen merchandise.
“I think when you have instances like this, it’s usually framed as a Black issue, but it’s growing into a bigger issue and not just a black issue,” attorney Haban Tewelde told the newspaper. “These are instances when more and more people are being deprived of their Fourth Amendment rights against illegal search and seizure.”
Since the incident, Lockett says his children are “scarred for life.”
It’s unclear if the men will pursue legal action against the police department and the mall.
Watch more in the video below.