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‘You Can’t Leave with That’: Elderly Black Woman Attacked, Trapped By White Texas Store Clerks Over $50 Bill She Found on Floor

A 65-year-old Black woman was locked in the store and attacked by white store clerks after she found $50 on the floor at Lindemann Grocery Store in Austin County, Texas.

Betty Smith went to the store on Jan. 15 to grab ice cream and honey buns for her special-needs son, who was in the car with her. She left her son in the car while she went into the store to grab the items. Smith found the $50 bill on the floor just as she was getting ready to check out.

Betty Smith in an altercation with store employees in Austin County, Texas. (Photos: Fox 26 News)

“I told the cashier, look here, my lucky day!” says Smith to Fox 26 News. “The woman at the counter says, ‘Oh no, you can’t leave with that … that might be my friend’s money. He was in here earlier.'”

Smith said she was the only person in the store at that time, along with the three white employees. The female clerk refused to let her check out after she refused to hand her the money. The clerk then proceeded to lock the door before the physical altercation occurred.

The video of the incident shows one female snatching the money out of Smith’s hand. She tried fighting back, but another male and female shoved her and choked her. She stated that the employees used racial slurs at her and refused to let her leave.

“I was especially scared of the one in the pink because she had me around my neck and was she strong,” Smith said. “She was all in my ear,’ You Black b—-, you not getting out of here.”

Smith became distraught and called her granddaughter Dezteni Cyrus for help.

“She was frantic,” said Cyrus. “I rushed out of the shower and put on a robe. They wouldn’t let her out. She’s a diabetic. I could see where her feet were bothering her…her shoes were across from her…I said, ‘y’all have to let her out!'” 

Cyrus showed up to her grandmother’s rescue, and one of the store clerks called the police on her.

An Austin County Sheriff’s deputy arrived on the scene and arrested Cyrus for allegedly assaulting one of the employees during the altercation. Cyrus’ mother was also arrested as well.

Cyrus’ mother chose not to speak on camera at the time of the interview, but she did tell Fox 26 that the incident jeopardized her job.

Sheriff Jack Brandes released the following statement to Fox 26 News:

“On January 15, 2023, at approximately 7:05 p.m., the Austin County Sheriff’s Office responded to the Lindemann Store in Industry, Texas for a disturbance in progress. Deputies arrived and conducted an investigation in to the cause of the disturbance. One subject was arrested at the scene who was not initially involved in the original disturbance, but who walked in to the scene later and assaulted a victim. This secondary assault was captured on camera as well. Currently, the statements, videos, body-worn camera video, and all evidence collected has been forwarded to the Austin County District Attorney for consideration of potential charges against various individuals.”

The cops didn’t arrest any of the three employees. The manager of Lindemann’s stated he was not at the store at the time and was notified of the incident later that night when one of the employees called him after the deputy made the arrests. He and the owner fired all three employees the next day and apologized to Smith.

“They offered to help pay bond money and offered to give me the $50 bill and any support I needed, but I didn’t want it,” says Smith. “I feel like when things quiet down, the same thing is going to happen to me again.”

Smith was a longtime customer of the store and doesn’t plan on ever returning.

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