On Friday, a jury in Oregon ruled that the grocery store chain was liable for damages after customer Michael Mangum was wrongfully harassed because of his race. The incident occurred on March 26th, 2020, when Mangum went to a Walmart in Wood Village, Oregon, to purchase lightbulbs for his refrigerator.
As he shopped, Mangum observed the store’s loss prevention employee, Joe Williams, closely following his every move. When he confronted the man about being wrongfully monitored throughout the store, Williams demanded that Mangum leave. When he refused, the loss prevention officer said he would call the police and tell them Mangum punched him in the face, something that did not take place. At no point in the confrontation did things turn physical.
When Multnomah County Sheriff’s deputies came to the store, they declined to arrest Mangum due to Williams’ history of making false police reports and “shifting explanations as to why the employee called.” The following day, Sheriff’s Sergeant Bryan White and another deputy returned to the store to meet with Walmart’s management. They informed them that Williams would often report “dangerous active situations” inside the store that never happened. Williams was eventually fired in July 2020 for mishandling property.
In December 2021, Mangum officially filed a lawsuit against Walmart for negligent retention and action against a person who summoned police with improper intent.
Walmart is now reviewing its next steps, calling the ruling last week “excessive.”