An Oregon jury has awarded a black man $4.4 million in damages after he sued Walmart alleging racial profiling.
Michael Mangum was awarded $400,000 in non-economic damages and $4 million in punitive damages over his claim that a Walmart employee had followed him around after racially profiling him and attempted to have him charged by law enforcement.
Mangum said that he was at the Walmart in Wood Village, Oregon, on March 26, 2020, looking for a refrigerator lightbulb when the incident took place.
“Noticing that he was under surveillance by a Walmart loss prevention employee, Mangum objected, believing he was racially profiled,” a press release from Mangum’s lawyer, Greg Kafoury, said.
At this point, Mangum was asked to leave the store — but refused. He claimed that the employee told him that he “would call the police and tell them that Mangum had threatened to smash him in the face,” according to Kafoury’s statement.
Multnomah County Sheriff’s deputies arrived at the store, but declined to charge Mangum due to the employee having a history of filing false reports, his legal team said.
Multnomah County Sheriff’s Shift Cmdr. Sgt. Bryan White said during his deposition that he and his deputies were becoming “extremely frustrated with a pattern of behavior that they had identified” of the employee calling 9-1-1 to report “dangerous active situations such as customers physically assaulting him or loss prevention employees or other Walmart employees while trying to steal and then the deputies determining that that never actually happened.”
“Our Deputies have a fair and balanced approach to criminal investigations. I am pleased with how our members responded and assessed the allegations being made in this situation. They recognized inconsistencies in the caller’s report and in past interactions,” Multnomah County Sheriff Mike Reese told CNN in a statement.
According to his complaint, Mangum “suffered, continues to suffer, and may permanently suffer from embarrassment, fear, humiliation, anger, and indignity.”
Walmart called the award “excessive” and denied the claims made by Mangum and his legal team.
“Mr. Mangum was never stopped by Walmart’s Asset Protection. He interfered with our associates as they were surveilling and then stopped confirmed shoplifters, and then refused to leave despite being asked to repeatedly by our staff and Multnomah County deputies,” spokesperson Randy Hargrove told CNN. “We are reviewing our options including post-trial motions.”
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