Dennis Stewart, a former police officer, and Terence Richardson, a pastor, were handcuffed by the police at a Walmart in the Houston suburb of Conroe, Texas; after trying to return a $300 TV last September; Stewart bought the TV earlier in the day but said it wasn’t working properly, and so wanted to return it, the lawsuit said.
The two black men are suing Walmart for racial discrimination and false arrest; alleging that they were accused of theft and handcuffed by police after trying to return a television set.
“A white Walmart employee working at the customer service counter accused Dennis of stealing the television; refused to accept the television in return or exchange, and called the police claiming Dennis and Terence had stolen the television,”; the lawsuit, filed Thursday in the Southern District of Texas, states. “The police showed up, detained, and handcuffed both Dennis and Terence; in front of the store where other store customers looked on as they entered and exited the store.”
According to CBS, After freeing the men, Walmart employees made Richardson and Stewart sign a document; vowing not to return to the store, the suit alleges. Stewart is a former police officer in Montgomery County, Texas, while Richardson is a pastor.
A Walmart spokesman said Friday that the company is aware of the incident. “We do not tolerate discrimination and take allegations like this seriously,” the retailer said in a statement to CBS MoneyWatch. “When the claims were brought to our attention in April of this year, we investigated them. We are not getting into further detail given the litigation and will respond as appropriate with the court.”