Black Officer Sues Walmart for ‘Racially Charged’ Shoplifter Error

In Summary

A Georgia correctional officer is suing an area Walmart after they reportedly mistook him for a shoplifter on the basis that he was “big and Black.” 

Corrections officer David Conners is suing a Walmart in Fayetteville, Georgia, alleging he was racially profiled as a shoplifting suspect and handcuffed, NBC News reported

Conners, who works for the Clayton County Detention Center, was shopping for supplies on or about Sept. 30 when he was stopped by loss prevention and misidentified as a person suspected of shoplifting from the store multiple times before. 

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He reportedly introduced himself to the loss prevention officer by name and occupation before handing over his driver’s license and work identification.  

Despite being told they had the wrong individual, the loss prevention officer phoned the Fayetteville Police Department, who arrived at the store and publicly “surrounded him, embarrassed him and escorted him” into the Loss Prevention Office in handcuffs, per the lawsuit. 

According to Conners’ lawyer, Terance Madden, officials knew the name of the shoplifting suspect, had images of him and had an open warrant. 

Conners was subsequently released after the primary investigator in the shoplifting case confirmed he was not the suspect. Neither the officers engaged in the incident nor the store employees have apologized. 

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“One of the officers said, trying to make excuses of why he was misidentified, ‘Well, you’re about the same build,’” said Madden, per NBC. “That means the only identifying that they did on him was that he was big and he was Black.” 

In a statement, Fayetteville police said they had nothing to do with the accusations against Conner and were only investigating the complaint since he reportedly fit the description of the repeat offender. 

“To complicate matters, both the suspect and Mr. Conner have similar builds and were both wearing COVID protective masks,” per the statement. “We did briefly detain Mr. Conner to investigate the alleged crime. This detention occurred outside of the public’s view in the LP office located in Walmart.” 

RELATED: Detroit police challenged over face recognition flaws 

Walmart spokesperson Randy Hargrove said in a statement they’re taking the allegations against the store seriously. 

Conners is seeking compensation for physical and emotional damages.

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