A jury has decided a Walmart must pay $4.4 million in damages to Michael Mangum, who sued the store, saying he was racially profiled and harassed by a Walmart employee at a Portland, Oregon, area store in 2020.
According to the lawsuit, the employee “spied” on Mangum, who is Black, while shopping, ordered him to leave, and called police when he refused, KGW reported. Mangum filed the lawsuit against Walmart in December 2021 for negligent retention and action against person who summons police with improper intent, according to the lawsuit and the AP.
On March 26, 2020, Mangum, who was 59 at the time, was shopping at Walmart in Wood Village for a refrigerator light bulb. He noticed store employee Joe Williams watching him as he shopped.
Not soon after, Williams told Mangum to leave the store, but Mangum refused, saying he’d done nothing wrong. Williams called the non-emergency police dispatch line and told the operator he “had a person refusing to leave,” the lawsuit states. Williams also claimed Mangum threatened him, something Mangum denied, Yahoo reported.
According to Mangum’s lawyers, deputies from the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office responded and “refused to take action against Mangum.” The lawyers said deputies made that decision based on Williams’ “shifting explanations” for the reason he called and because of his “reputation for making false reports to police.”
According to Mangum’s lawyers, Sheriff’s Sergeant Bryan White and another deputy met with the director of the Walmart and the assistant manager and explained that deputies had noticed a “pattern of behavior” in which Williams would call the police to report “dangerous active situations, such as customers physically assaulting him or other employees,” that were not happening.
Williams was ultimately fired by the retail giant months later in July 2020 for “mishandling $35 of Walmart property,” the lawsuit said.
After the grand jury verdict in the case, Walmart said they would fight the judgment.
Walmart spokesperson Randy Hargrove called into question some of the claims and said Walmart considers the verdict “excessive.”
“We do not tolerate discrimination. We believe the verdict is excessive and is not supported by the evidence,” Hargrove said in a statement.
Photo: Walmart was ordered to pay Michael Mangum $4.4 million after a store employee harassed him while shopping in 2020. Screenshot from KPTV Fox 12.