Two lifelong friends stepped into a Texas Walmart last year expecting to exchange a defective 58-inch television one of them purchased earlier that day, reports NBC News.
Instead, the Sept. 10, 2020, trip to the Walmart in Conroe, Texas, led to theft accusations by White employees against Dennis Stewart and Terence Richardson, who are Black, according to a federal lawsuit filed Thursday in the U.S. District Court’s Southern District of Texas.
The men said a routine trip to the store resulted in police being called on them on suspicion they stole the television. They added that they were placed in handcuffs despite Stewart showing store workers the $300.94 receipt for the Hisense television he bought, according to suit, which names Walmart Inc. as a defendant.
Walmart Stores TexasLLC, and multiple store employees identified as John Doe and Jane Doe are also named in the civil suit as defendants.
Stewart and Richardson allege they were falsely imprisoned and discriminated against because of their race, the lawsuit said. The moment in handcuffs was so overwhelming and degrading for Stewart, he broke down while detained inside the store, court filings stated.
“Plaintiffs repeatedly asked for an explanation for being detained, searched, handcuffed and embarrassed in such a demeaning fashion, and also why the defective television was not allowed to be exchanged,” the lawsuit said. The men’s questions went unanswered. “It was at this point Dennis — a grown 50+year old man — began to cry and begged for answers,” according to the suit.
Walmart said in a statement Friday: “We do not tolerate discrimination and take allegations like this seriously. 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.”
Conroe is about 40 miles north of Houston.