A Black shopper is suing Walmart after allegedly being racially profiled in one of their stores in metro Atlanta. The local corrections officer says he was handcuffed, isolated, and wrongfully accused of shoplifting and now he is in counseling to cope with the trauma from the event.
ABC News reports David Conners, a Clayton County corrections officer, says he was in the home décor section of a Walmart in the Atlanta suburb of Fayette County when he was accused by a Fayetteville Police Department officer of being a serial shoplifter.
Conners is now suing for the act of profiling and filed a false imprisonment complaint against a “Jane Doe” in the lawsuit, the Insider reported.
His lawyer Terance Madden said, “He’s just in the store, minding his own business when he’s approached by the police, and everything went downhill from there.”
Employees from the Walmart store had pointed out the masked Conners to the cops, who accused him of being a man with the last name “Wright” who supposedly had previously lifted items from the electronics section.
According to the lawsuit, after being accused he identified himself as a local corrections officer and provided the deataining officers two pieces of identification, including showing his Clayton County work ID. Still, he was detained and placed in a holding area.
He told officers in a video obtained by WSBTV, “I ain’t never shoplift a day in my life. You got the wrong man.”
After Conners was shown security surveillance video of the “Wright” person stealing, he told them to look closer: “That is not me.”
He directed them to his tattoos arguing that he is not the same man, but that was not enough for them to let him go. The officers believed Conners and the presumed shoplifter had a similar built and both wore a mask.
Conners suit claims he was held until the officers FaceTimed another person familiar with the previous thefts to confirm they had pulled the wrong person.
Since the incident, the man states that he has not received an apology from the corporation or the individual that misidentified him and called the police. Further, he says he has started therapy to assist him in coping with the trauma he experienced after being racially profiled. He was also worried about his job, telling WSB, “I could have lost my Georgia post over this situation.”
A work-related takeaway for Conners, according to Madden, is how the incident has informed his personal and professional life, making him more conscious of the various dynamics of racial profiling by law enforcement and the public.
Conners said, “I really start thinking about a lot of things more. I never racially profiled.”
“You see it all the time, but you never believe it’s going to happen to you until it happens to you,” Madden stated. “It becomes personal, and a violation is something you can’t help to think about over and over and over again when it happens to you.”
Randy Hargrove, a Walmart spokesperson gave a very brief remark about the company’s position, being careful not to address the incident directly, “We don’t tolerate discrimination of any kind and take allegations like this seriously. We are not going to comment further on this pending litigation.”
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