A local law enforcement official testified that the Wal-Mart employee who reported the shopper had a long history making false claims to police.
An Oregon jury has awarded a Black man $4.4 million in damages after he filed a lawsuit claiming that a Wal-Mart employee racially profiled him.
According to CNN, Michael Mangum was awarded $400,000 in non-economic damages and $4,000,000 in punitive damages.
Wal-Mart issued a statement saying that it does not tolerate discrimination and believes that the verdict was “excessive” and not supportive by evidence.
“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,” Wal-Mart spokesperson Randy Hargrove said. “We are reviewing our options including post-trial motions.”
CNN reports that Mangum, who was 59 years old at the time of the incident, went to a Wal-Mart store in Wood Village, Oregon, on March 26, 2020, to purchase a lightbulb for his refrigerator.
“Noticing that he was under surveillance by a Walmart loss prevention employee, Mangum objected, believing he was racially profiled,” Magnum’s legal team said in a press release.
The loss prevention employee ordered Mangum to leave the store, but Mangum refused.
The same employee, says CNN, then said that he “would call the police and tell them that Mangum had threatened to smash him in the face.”
Multnomah County deputies arrived to the store, but declined to take action against Mangum, citing “shifting explanations as to why the employee called” law enforcement, as well as the employee’s alleged history of making false reports to the police.
Mangum’s attorney provided CNN with a deposition clip, in which Multnomah County Sheriff’s Shift Cmdr. Sgt. Bryan White said that he and deputies on his shift had become “extremely frustrated with a pattern of behavior they had identified” in 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.”
Multnomah County Sheriff Mike Reese told CNN that his department treats everyone with dignity and respect.
“Our Deputies have a fair and balanced approach to criminal investigations,” Reese said. “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,” Reese said.
Mangum’s trial attorney, Greg Kafoury, said that his client would have been at risk if local law enforcement had taken Wal-Mart’s asset protection team at its word.
“His jobs would have been at great risk had he been charged with a crime, but he refused to be intimidated by [the employee’s] lying and bullying,” Kafoury said. “He lives the same message of self-respect that he teaches to young people, ‘stand up for yourself when you know you’re right.’ Because of his courage, we were able to show the jury an unconscionable failure of responsibility by the world’s largest corporation.”