A Black Ohio man has filed a lawsuit against two West Chester police officers and Meijer alleging he was wrongfully detained for shoplifting even though the suspect was described as a younger White man.
According to FOX19 NOW, the incident occurred after Eric Lindsay visited the Meijer store after work in January last year. The plaintiff said he arrived at the store after a shoplifting incident, and he entered behind the officers who had come to the store to investigate the incident.
Lindsay, 60, was wearing an orange puffy coat with a tan and brown scarf at the time of the incident. Meijer employees also told police the suspect was a White man who was dressed in a green or gray Carhart coat and had a red hoodie on. The suspect was also said to be in his 30s.
But despite the clear disparities between the two men, the police officers still approached Lindsay. The lawsuit claims Lindsay was unlawfully detained, adding that the incident left him embarrassed and humiliated. The lawsuit also states Lindsay suffered severe emotional humiliation.
“In the same being as so many national instances where African-Americans have been confronted by law enforcement for engaging in their daily lives and doing nothing illegal, this case is about the unsupportable and illegal profiling, detention, accusing, and interrogation of an African-American customer by Police Officers and the complicit actions of the retail store where it occurred,” the lawsuit states.
The plaintiff’s attorney, Fanon Rucker, also told FOX19 NOW Lindsay was the only African American in the building and “is the last person they should have stopped.”
“They walked past a dozen or more shoppers, don’t speak to a single one, and go to him and start bothering him,” Rucker added. The lawsuit also alleges the store’s manager “did nothing to prevent or stop the unconstitutional detention.”
The officers named in the suit were identified as Tanner Csendes and Timothy Mitkenbaugh. The other defendants are named John and Jane Does and ABC Corporations.
Rucker said police bodycam footage recorded Csendes telling Mitkenbaugh that Lindsay was looking at him. And though Lindsay was not placed in handcuffs or arrested, Rucker said the officers questioned him for several minutes while other shoppers watched.
Lindsay also told the officers his dressing did not match the description of the suspect after one of them told him the person of interest was wearing a tan jacket. The lawsuit stated the officers later got to know a different officer had identified and apprehended the suspect.
In the aftermath of the incident, Rucker said Mitkenbaugh rendered an apology to Lindsay and told him he fit the suspect’s description. The store’s manager also said Linday’s detainment was a “big mistake.”