Nationally renowned civil rights and personal injury attorney Ben Crump and co-counsels Steve Combs and Jamie Holland held a news conference this week announcing a lawsuit against Publix on behalf of Tawanda Crowell on the grounds of excessive force.
The incident, which happened February 2020 at the Publix Grocery Store on 103rd Street, alleges the company hired an off-duty uniformed police to work in its stores but failed to provide any training specific to working in a retail environment. Crowell had purchased food in the store and returned to her car when she was accosted by an armed police officer who had been tipped off by a Publix employee that she shoplifted. She refused to give the officer her receipt. Tawanda was tased and knocked to the ground in front of her young goddaughter and nieces. Although the arresting officer found the receipt verifying Tawanda’s purchase of the food, she was still arrested and jailed for 24 hours.
Throughout the legal process, Crowell’s legal team plans to investigate Publix’s use of armed police officers, its practice of additional training for them and the training of its other store employees, with special attention to black shoppers.