PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A Multnomah County man was awarded $4.4 million on Friday in a racial discrimination lawsuit against Walmart, according to his lawyers.
The lawsuit claims Michael Mangum was racially profiled by a store associate while he was shopping at the Wood Village Walmart on March 26, 2020.
The associate, Joe Williams, allegedly “spied” on Mangum before demanding he leave the store. When Mangum refused, Williams called police and reported Mangum “started flipping out” on him despite not acting violent, according to court documents.
But when Multnomah County Sheriff deputies arrived, they “refused to take action” due to shifting explanations and previous false reports made by Williams, the lawsuit alleges.
“The vast majority came from deputies on my shift who had become extremely frustrated with a pattern of behavior that they had identified of Mr. Williams calling 911 to report dangerous active situations such as customers physically assaulting him or loss prevention employees or other employees while trying to steal and then the deputies determining that it actually never happened,” said Multnomah County Sergeant Bryan White.
Mangum claims a store manager told him there had been a large loss due to a theft, but Mangum denied any involvement.
A spokesperson for Walmart told KOIN 6 Mangum “interfered” with store associates who were surveilling shoplifters before he was asked multiple times to leave by both staff and deputies.
Additionally, the lawsuit alleges the big box retailer ignored a “pattern of false reports” made by Williams. One day after the incident, Sgt. Bryan White and a deputy reportedly told store management that Williams had a history of “reporting dangerous active situations, such as customers physically assaulting him or other employees.”
Williams was fired four months later for an unrelated incident.
Walmart’s full statement:
“We do not tolerate discrimination. We believe the verdict is excessive and is not supported by the 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. We are reviewing our options including post-trial motions.”