On Friday (August 19), Michael Mangum was awarded $400,000 in non-economic damages and $4 million in punitive damages, his attorney said in a news release.
According to Mangum's lawsuit, a Walmart theft prevention worker 'spied' on him while he was shopping, ordered him to leave the store, and call the cops on him when he refused.
The incident unfolded at a Walmart in Wood Village, Oregon on March 26, 2020, as Mangum was looking for a lightbulb for his refrigerator, per the news release.
“Noticing that he was under surveillance by a Walmart loss prevention employee, Mangum objected, believing he was racially profiled,” the release said.
After Mangum didn't leave the store per the employee's request, the worker said he “would call the police and tell them that Mangum had threatened to smash him in the face," according to the release.
Mangum's attorney said that Multnomah County Sheriff’s deputies arrived at the store but did not take action against Mangum due to “shifting explanations as to why the employee called” and because of the employee’s pattern of making false reports to law enforcement.
The suit claims that the employee sought to "unlawfully discriminate against" Mangum by calling the police.
Greg Kafoury, Mangum’s trial attorney, said his client was at risk of being charged with a crime and losing his job had deputies acted on the employee's claims.
In a statement to CNN, a Walmart spokesperson said that while the company doesn't tolerate discrimination, the verdict was "excessive" and not supported by evidence.
“Mr. Mangum was never stopped by Walmart’s Asset Protection. He interfered with our associates as they were surveilling and then stopped confirmed shoplifters, and then refused to leave despite being asked to repeatedly by our staff and Multnomah County deputies,” spokesperson Randy Hargrove said.
“We are reviewing our options including post-trial motions,” Hargrove added.