PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Conflict caught on camera between a customer and a security guard now has the customer suing the store, which he says he was a regular customer of.
The lawsuit alleges Nguyen Cao was targeted because of his race when he was accused of shoplifting at the Delta Park Fisherman’s Marine Supply store, and that he’s not the only customer to accuse the store of discrimination.
Cao says he’s fished most of his life.
“When I grew up back in Vietnam, my home country, I always loved fishing,” said Cao, adding that passion continued when he moved to the Pacific Northwest years ago. “I moved here for good and we are so blessed to live in the Pacific Northwest where we have beautiful outdoors and fishing.”
An avid fisherman, he also frequents bait and tackle stores throughout the year like Fisherman’s Marine Supply, shopping at the Oregon City location for years when he lived in Portland before moving across the river to Southwest Washington.
“Two years ago, I moved to Vancouver, so the Delta Park store is the main store that I go there, and I’ve been there many times,” said Cao.
However, on Jan. 19, his routine visit took a different turn. He says while shopping that evening, he was approached by a store manager he didn’t know, who accused him of stealing — an encounter he eventually started recording with his phone.
“Either empty your pockets or get out of my store,” the manager is heard saying on the video. As Cao continued to deny stealing anything and offered to empty his pockets, the manager tells him to leave the store. A short time later, a security guard approaches them and begins to escort him out before threatening Cao with force.
“You turn around again, I’m going to put you on the ground,” the guard is heard saying in the video, before Cao says things escalated as they got to the parking lot, saying the guard shoved him to the ground, shortly after he said he was going to call 911.
In the video while he’s on the ground, he’s heard multiple times, asking, “what have I done wrong?”
Cao eventually gets up and to his car before driving away, continuing to film. The whole ordeal is part of why he’s now suing the store, as well as the security guard, identified in the lawsuit as Ryan Burroughs, and the security company, Talon Protection Group.
“They have to change and train their employees better to never have this happen to anyone else,” said Cao.
While the lawsuit alleges negligence for the use of force, it also alleges racial discrimination, adding that Cao isn’t the first, citing past Google reviews for that location by minorities.
“I was discriminated against for being black and felt very uncomfortable,” said one reviewer.
“It’s very uncomfortable to walk around and get the workers watching and following you around,” said another reviewer.
Cao says as a result of the incident, he’s been left with physical and emotional pain.
“I couldn’t sleep for many nights,” said Cao. “Now, anytime I go anywhere, I just really get scared and worried.”
KOIN 6 News reached out to the Delta Park Fisherman’s Marine Supply store, Burroughs and Talon Protection Group, but hasn’t heard back from any of them.