A Multnomah County jury awarded $67,000 to Teresa White and Deante Strickland in November 2012. The case involved an African American mother and son who were falsely arrested by Walgreens manager Wendy Marceau in May 2012. Marceau called the police and reported that there was a “theft in progress” and that Ms. White had “put 15 items of makeup in her purse.” Portland Police Officer Hoeppner arrived and had White and Strickland stand in the entry way of the Walgreens and empty out White’s purse and both their pockets in front of customers. Finding nothing, the officer then reviewed the video footage with the store manager in the backroom for 30 minutes. Officer Hoeppner then returned and stated there was “no evidence” of stealing on the video and told our clients they were free to go.
At the time, Strickland was the starting point guard for Central Catholic’s varsity basketball team.
Several internal Walgreens polices were revealed at the trial:
Walgreens doesn’t consider bad stops, where no arrest is made to be “incidents” worth documenting. Walgreens doesn’t require incident reports to be written, or surveillance video of bad stops to be retained.
Walgreens doesn’t hire loss prevention staff or security at their stores. Instead, when Walgreens suspects theft, managers call the police. Marceau admitted she called the police “several times a week” for suspected shoplifting over her three years at that store, but only “maybe a handful” of times had people actually been arrested.
“This case is about more than shopping while black,” said Greg Kafoury. “Walgreens, as a business decision, fails to employ security guards at each store and instead uses the Portland police as their private security force, and this is an abuse of customers, of taxpayers and of those who need the police to be able to respond to emergencies.”