Vindictive WalMart erroneously accuses couple of shoplifting, has husband deported, wife fired, costs them house and car

A newlywed couple in Birmingham, AL had problems with the automatic checkout system at WalMart, which refused to ring up their $2.90 packet of chicken necks. A WalMart employee helped them with the system, and they paid and made to leave. A security guard confronted them and accused them of stealing the chicken necks, despite their receipt, which showed they had paid. The manager was summoned, reviewed the receipt and the security footage, and concluded the couple had done nothing wrong. However, the security guard insisted on calling the police, and then WalMart contacted the INS to alert them to the husband's legal trouble (he hadn't yet been naturalized following his wedding to a US citizen), as well as the WalMart where the wife worked in order to get her fired. The husband was deported, the wife lost her car and home in the ensuing legal battle. They're suing.

Plaintiff told these employees to look again as the item was on the bottom of the receipt and therefore accounted for. The security guard started screaming and asked to see the identifications of the plaintiff and her husband. The security guard screamed at the plaintiff and her husband saying they were going to be deported. The security guard, in overly loud voice, stated plaintiff and her husband were illegal and what were they doing in this country. Plaintiff asked for the assistant manager. The security guard answered by saying plaintiff and her husband were going to jail...

The assistant manager said in presence of plaintiff and her husband: 'I see where she scanned it, I see where it's been rung up.' Plaintiff responded: 'I did scan it, I told you.' Ricky, plaintiff's husband said I'll pay for it again if you want me to. The assistant manager then said to the security guard: 'Well what do you want to do?' The security guard said he wanted to put plaintiff and her husband in jail.

...When the security guard found that Mary Hill Bonin had worked at another Wal-Mart, he called that store and informed it "that she was being charged with a Theft of Property in the Third Degree," even though the assistant manager already had told him that the chicken bones had been bought and paid for, the Bonins say.

Wal-Mart Goes Nuclear Over Chicken Necks; Newlyweds Lose House; Husband Deported

(via Consumerist)

(Image: Red Dog Deli Chicken Back & Neck, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from doggybytes's photostream)

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    1. shouldn’t the headline be “Security Guard Goes Nuclear While Assistant Manager Does Nothing…”

      and big surprise…internet posters stereotype

      1. In the last 10 years, over 40% of the state’s voters voted to make interracial marriage illegal. You can bet some of the other 60% don’t approve of it either. All in all, the state sounds about 50-75% racist, and the numbers back it up.

        1. Not to be pedantic, but the vote in 2000 was to remove the miscegenation clause of the 1901 Alabama Constitution. And it did pass.

          At 340,136 words comprising the main body and 827 amendments, Alabama’s is the longest constitution in the world. Almost every local issue has to be brought to the entire state as an amendment to the constitution. It’s ridiculous. There are several sides to the issue of constitutional reform: some people like it the way it is (mostly lawyers, legislators and rural landowners), and those who think it needs to be changed. There are two views on changing it: the sensible side wants a constitutional convention to write a new constitution from scratch; the insane want to amend the constitution over time until it says what they want to say. Many in the former group (myself included) routinely vote against amendments, even good ones. The amendment repealing the miscegenation clause was the only amendment I’ve voted for in more than 10 years, but I imagine that at least some of the 40% who voted against it were doing so because Alabama needs a new constitution, and not because they didn’t want blacks to mary whites. The fact is that mixed marriages were fairly commonplace beginning in the early ’90s, and while there may be some folks who don’t like it, for the most part they don’t make a big deal about it.

    2. Seeing as how the article doesn’t mention the race of any of the participants you must have another source of information on the incident.  Please provide a link.

      1. Although the article doesn’t explicitly call out anyone’s race, the security guard’s response:

        The security guard, in overly loud voice, stated plaintiff and her husband were illegal and what were they doing in this country.

        suggests that they are most likely not white anglophones.

  1. Maybe the headline should read “Vindictive Wal-Mart EMPLOYEE…” Hard to see how this gets pinned to the company in general.

    1. Actions of the company’s employees reflect the company’s policies.

      Ways Walmart, the company, could have prevented or ameliorated this situation:

      1- put the manager-on-duty into a position of authority over the security guard, instead of the other way around, or at least give veto power on having someone arrested.
      2- require sensitivity training for employees given this kind of power
      3- awaited the results of a criminal conviction before firing the other employee
      4- given the woman back her job when the details of the case came out
      5- fired the security guard when the details of the case came out
      6- (depending on her actual role) fired or disciplined the assistant manager for allowing things to get to that point, when the details of the case came out

      These two are just speculation, but I’d be willing to bet a lot of money that they’re also true:

      7- investigated the background of all guards, and noticed a previous pattern of racially-motivated hate incidents for this particular guard
      8- disciplined or fired this security guard for previous racially-motivated hate incidents that have already occurred on this job.

    2. Or the state, for that matter. I hate hearing people say “Alabamians are prejudiced” without a hint of irony. (Not that you did, but people frequently do.) When something like this happens, it feeds their confirmation bias.

    3. I was thinking the same thing, until it turned out that the wife worked for another Wal-Mart store and so, even with all the information available to them, they fired the woman.

      1. What additional information did Wal-Mart have?  By the article, it sounds like they only had the information given by the LPO, which, to say the least, would always be one-sided.  One would THINK that they would ‘investigate’ to the best of [whoever does the hiring/firings] ability… but, it’s not clear whether they did, or did not.  As it was, it doesn’t look like the police investigated this at all which should have taken all of about 15 seconds.  (The legal status of the husband notwithstanding).

  2. So, maybe I don’t understand the power dynamics at Walmart, but shouldn’t the assistant manager outrank a security guard?  if not, why not?

    1. It’s possible that security is run by a private firm at some of the larger stores, to avoid conflicts of interest if the employees are the ones being accused. That’s the only thing I can think of.

  3. Yeah this is really a problem of the asst. manger and the security person. But also, why did the cops arrest them when their was proof right there that they had paid for the items? Did the guard accuse them of something else as well?

  4. Something doesn’t feel right about this whole thing.  On face value, Wal-mart and its employees clearly are at fault.  Need more details though – something just doesn’t seem right – if they were married, how was the man deported?  Was Ricky charged and convicted of a crime?  If not, it would be REALLY difficult to deport him.  

    1. Read the article. They were only recently married, he wasn’t naturalized yet. And it is not at all hard to get deported.

      For example, in this case, it sounds like jailing the wife removed the only wage, hence losing the house and car – and would have made the husband a ‘public charge’ (a dependent of the State). If you do that within your first 5 years, you’re deported. Assuming that’s what happened, it’d be a direct consequence of Walmart’s actions & no fault of the couple – which makes the story even worse.

    2. Even if a non-resident alien or one without a proper visa, like an H-1B, has gotten married to a US citizen, they are usually not supposed to be in the country until USCIS (as the former INS is now known) has verified that the marriage is legitimate and not a sham that exists solely to procure residency for the alien. If he wasn’t supposed to be here yet, then he was deportable whether or not he was convicted of a crime.

      I’m not saying this is what happened. But it is one possible explanation about why he was deported.

      1. Perhaps, but that still wouldn’t absolve these Wal-Mart folk of their general scummy behavior regardless.

        1. Oh yeah, if that’s the way it went down that security guard was a dick for sure. But keep in mind that the quoted version of events in this story comes straight from the Plaintiff’s civil Complaint. It’s just one side of the story that doesn’t come from a neutral third party. 

          I have no way of knowing whether it contains any falsehoods, but it’s important for journalists to include all of the relevant facts in a story, which Cory failed to do here.

    3. I was thinking the same thing. When the security guard says “is being charged” it implies to me that the police showed up, evaluated the circumstances, arrested the guy, and charged the guy. Where I live the cops don’t want to monkey around with $3 of theft, so this would be VERY unlikely to go this far unless there really was something there. Maybe Birmingham police have more time on their hands.

      P.S. the security guard seems like a real a-hole.

    4. It’s not as hard as you think. My brother-in-law married a woman from Colombia and it took a full year to get her papers in order–and they were smart, well-to-do and doing all the paperwork correctly. If there was already a hitch in the paperwork somehow (which seems implied by the wording of the story), it may have been a “do not pass go” situation.

    5. That’s what has me wondering. There are all sorts of temporary visas available when a foreigner marries a US citizen and doesn’t yet have a green card or naturalization.So the only way INS would have gotten involved is if the husband had no documentation at all.

      And even then deportation would be hard unless there was a felony record or an outstanding warrant.

      On the other hand, in this day and age, the cops routinely check immigration status in a lot of areas, so if a discrepancy was found it would be very likely to be discovered.

      Even allowing for this, the security guard has some ‘splainin’ to do. No reason for the woman to lose her job.

      1. Much is explained by the fact this story dates from 2007. Four years for a deportation process sounds about right in terms of the time.

  5. This happened in 2007? Nasty story, but these details are just coming out? Don’t get it.

    1. That’s probably how long INS took to decide to deport the husband. Not as big a story without the deportation.

  6. I agree. There’s something not right about this one-sided story. While I don’t doubt SOMETHING went down, I’m having a hard time swallowing this chicken neck: 1) why did the security guard blow up like this? It seems a little over the top. 2) Why does it seem as if he was gunning for this couple, as if he knew more about the customers than we’re led to believe. 3) Why would the customer offer to pay again when he clearly has proof that it was paid for? I’m not entirely buying this.

    1. A few other things about the article seem glossed-over…• Why was she denied bail? This seems unusual for accusation of a minor crime like third-degree shoplifting.• The article jumps straight from her being held for suspicioun to claiming she “lost her home, her car, all of her personal belongings” as a direct result. How all of those things happened isn’t made clear.I’m not making any assumptions about the situation beyond what’s given, but it seems odd that the details of the incident itself are recounted in great detail, while no explanation is given for the unusually severe consequences that followed.

    2. That’s because the quote is lifted straight from the Plaintiff’s civil complaint without proper attribution. See my comment below.

    3. He probably offered to pay again because $2.90 isn’t that big an amount in comparison to the hassle that it clearly was generating for the couple.  I can totally see, especially if you’re new to the country, that if a security guard is going beserk and threatening you with jail and deportation and such, you might totally offer to pay another $2.90 and put a stop to the whole ugly situation and leave.  Sure, it’s not fun, and you might never want to go back in there, but there’s legit reasoning behind giving up such a small amount of money to avoid confrontation and an ugly scene and waste of time. 

      I once paid a parking ticket that wasn’t mine (issued in a city I hadn’t even visited in at least a decade) and ended up even paying it twice because the price even for paying it twice was cheaper than the hassle and expense for me to go there and fight it in court.  I could pay the 40 so bucks and move on.  Or I could take an entire day off work and lose all that pay and gas money and just in general be inconvenienced, or just grumble and pay it.  Sure I could have won in court.  I had proof I was hours away on the day the ticket was issued.  I probably could have obtained proof the second time that I’d payed it the first time.  But it just wasn’t worth it. 

      Sometimes you’ve got to put a value on your own peace.  And mine would probably have been well below $2.90 in their situation.

      1. You…*paid* a parking ticket?  And here I thought they were for folding up and shoving under wobbly table legs. 

      2. You don’t have to go to court to cancel a parking ticket. You just call them. I’ve had tickets twice because my license plate is the same as an abbreviation for a certain state (That i don’t live in). I’ve now gotten a ticket from the state (which i had never been in), and one from a car in that state in my town. All they have to do is mess up and write the state abbreviation into the license plate field. In both instances, I quashed the tickets via a 5 to 10 minute phone call that I did while at work. Took 0 seconds of my time, since it was already paid for by the federal government. Thank you taxpayers.

    4. If someone got hostile with me about an item that cost $2.90, I would probably offer to pay again just to get them to shut up too.  I’d rather pay three bucks than have a confrontation with somebody.

  7. Ralph Wiggum (at the Fallout Boy auditions): What’s for lunch? … Director (clearly exasperated): NEXT! … Ralph: Chicken necks?

  8. Although I have no reason to doubt the Plaintiff’s version of events, keep in mind that just because something is alleged in a civil complaint doesn’t mean that it’s true. 

    You failed to attribute the quotation as coming from their Complaint, unlike the original story from  There’s no way of knowing whether the account of events came from a neutral third party or one of the interested parties. In my opinion that is shoddy journalism.

  9. I’m not sure about Wal-Mart in the US, but in Canada the security guards (“Loss Prevention Officers”) are hired by a different division of the store and although they work cooperatively with store management, they ultimately have higher status. If an assistant manager has been stealing (just as any other employee), the Loss Prevention Officers from his store would be the ones investigating and making the calls, before even going to the store manager. So that’s why the assistant manager couldn’t keep the security guard in check; he’s not even his superior. They’re really just glorified department managers.

    As a former Wal-Mart employee, this is just another reason to despise those self-checkouts. They are awful, finicky machines that cause more trouble than they save.

    1. Seems to me that as soon as someone at Wal-Mart central looks at this, they’ll realize that getting their customers deported is bad for business.

      Aye, shifts the producer/consumer balance.

  10. A wee bit of an over-reaction in my books.  As illegal as theft is, for something like this, WalMart should NOT be wasting police time.  $2.90 probably won’t even cover gas to the station.  I’m not saying NOTHING should be done, ban from the store, or whatever…but no police, not for anything under say…$7.50.  Of course, that’s all moot because there was no theft to begin with. 

    Cullan, I would also likely ‘attempt’ to pay again for something that small.  Why?  So I don’t have to put up with the BS “Security Guard”.  Of course, after that, immediately go to “Customer Service” and ask for a refund.  And file a complaint.  I don’t know if you can do that at CS or not, but one thinks you could. 

    There was absolutely no reason to hold her, or her husband for that matter.  Actually, I can maybe see holding her husband for a short time, but not much.  That’s why the police are named in the suit for failing to investigate.  You simply cannot take at face value what is told to you.  Not that everyone lies, but making the assumption that the guard was telling the truth was a mistake by the police.  It would have taken a 15 second investigation to determine if there was a theft or not.

    What kind of legal authorities to “Security Guards” have in the US?  Here, they’re little more than Citizens, a few authorities given to carry gloves or a baton, and the right to ‘act’ as the property owner.  IE, the same rights a homeowner would have in his home to deny access, those sorts of things.  A guard here can’t actually ‘arrest’ anyone.  The only thing they do is essentially, a citizens arrest (with provisio that they don’t actually have to witness the crime in progress).

    1. The authority of a security guard to arrest someone suspected of shoplifting varies from state to state. Under the common law, a merchant did have a limited privilege to detain a person if they have a reasonable belief that the person has stolen merchandise. This clearly wouldn’t apply in this case as the security guard’s belief could not possibly be considered “reasonable” given the receipt they provided and the assistant store manager confirming the item had been paid for.

      Other than that, they have no more right to arrest someone than any other non-law enforcement  citizen.  They also lack the qualified immunity that police officers enjoy. So, assuming the facts presented are accurate and can be proven, while the real police officers may have done a crummy job, they will be protected. The security guard will be personally liable for damages he caused and Wal-Mart will be vicariously liable as his employer (since he was acting in the scope of his duties when he committed the tort).

      When I was a deputy DA, I was amazed at the legal risks our local grocery stores would take by aggressively pursuing suspected shoplifters. I think there is something about the culture of working in “loss prevention” that encourages the attitude that they can get away with anything.

      1. We’ve recently had a case here that has sparked a new law to aid shopkeepers in shoplifting incidents.  The old law of citizens arrest was used last year by a shopkeeper who went after a thief (who had stolen from him MANY times before, including earlier that day).  They pursued him (the ‘fresh pursuit’ clause), stop him, tied his hands, and put him in a van to wait for police to show up.  As it was then with the law, he actually followed it to the T…except that the charge given was NOT a felony, and therefore, the pursuit should not have happened, and therefore was an illegal citizens arrest.  I believe the new law takes away the requirement of it being a felony (or, as it is here, an indictable offense).

  11. “…When the security guard found that Mary Hill Bonin had worked at another Wal-Mart, he called that store and informed it “that she was being charged with a Theft of Property in the Third Degree,” even though the assistant manager already had told him that the chicken bones had been bought and paid for, the Bonins say.”

    Sounds like one of the few times that slander will be easily provable, since it seems clear that the guard knew the accusation was false and was without a doubt making the statement to cause harm to the plaintiff.

  12. I don’t want to start something here more than a discussion…but is being in the country illegally actually a crime?  I mean, it’s illegal yes, but is it codified in any laws?  Is there a criminal charge that goes along with it?  I know you can be held for deportation, which, to stave off any misunderstanding, is not what I’m asking here.  I ask simply for not knowing.  In Canada it’s NOT a crime to be here illegally. It’s not a criminal offense to be here without authorization.  You’ll be deported yeah, but there is no criminal charge. 

    1. Being in the country illegally is not a criminal offense however most of the methods of arriving at that status involve criminal offsenses such as deliberately avoiding a border crossing inspection or lying on a visa application.

    2. I don’t think it  needs to be a criminal charge. The INS people aren’t the justice system, they are a separate branch of the executive enforcing regulations, not laws.

      At least, if someone paid me to pretend i was a lawyer defending the INS, that’s what I’d say.

    3. No. Republicans tried this out last time we pretended to care about immigration, but it’s still just a civil offense to exist in the United States without permission.

  13. This doesn’t sound right. The couple haven’t committed a crime; they have a receipt, yet every person in a position of authority failed to do the right thing, and turned a blind eye to the injustice in front of them.  Each could claim they just did their jobs.

    Who makes money when people are deported?  Is this a growth industry, like prisons? We could read alot of motives into this story but I’m wondering if it could be simple graft.  Where better to troll for poor immigrants than Wal-Mart?

  14. 1) why did the security guard blow up like this? It
    seems a little over the top.2) Why does it seem as if he was gunning
    for this couple, as if he knew more about the customers than we’re led
    to believe. 3) Why would the customer offer to pay again when he clearly
    has proof that it was paid for? I’m not entirely buying this.

    (1) Security guards, bouncers, and police cannot admit they are wrong.  I mean not as people, but as creatures of authority; backing down even when they are clearly wrong undermines their authority.  Which is why most people (barring those schmoozers with uncanny manipulation abilities) won’t be able to talk a bouncer into letting them get into/stay at a bar once the bouncer decides they must leave.  Or why a cop will not back down from dragging your ass to the station even if you make a really great case that you weren’t doing anything wrong. 

    (2) Given (1), it doesn’t seem to me that we have to assume he was gunning for this couple.  Once he made the initial accusation and was challenged he couldn’t back down, which means he couldn’t let the emotional tension of the situation fall.  But since the other three people in the situation were trying to calm it down, he has to work extra hard to keep the tension up.  Which means shouting everyone down, staying angry, and most importantly failing to understand what was actually going on.

    I’m not making a moral judgment here.  This is all normal human behavior for someone in a position of absolute (because no one present could overrule him) authority as far as I can tell.

    (3) is also normal human nature.  An undocumented immigrant who isn’t sure of his rights and is trying at all costs to avoid a) police, b) courts, and c) the INS is obviously going to do whatever he can to get out of a situation like this one without attracting attention to himself, especially official attention.  You might think it’s silly because…you’re a citizen and if you can prove you paid for the thing, that’s that.  He can prove he paid for it and still get kicked out of the country.  He might have thought the guard was just on a power trip and thought that groveling might satisfy him. 

    1. (1) Security guards, bouncers, and police cannot admit they are wrong.  I
      mean not as people, but as creatures of authority; backing down even
      when they are clearly wrong undermines their authority.  Which is why
      most people (barring those schmoozers with uncanny manipulation
      abilities) won’t be able to talk a bouncer into letting them get
      into/stay at a bar once the bouncer decides they must leave.

      As somebody who works in a bar I’m trying to imagine a comparable situation where bouncers would find themselves often being wrong?  Disputes over paying aren’t really an issue.  Most of the time a person is asked to leave because their drunken behavior has gone from what’s generally considered acceptable in an establishment to making a scene and being really out of bounds.

      1. I didn’t say anything about “often,” I just said if they do happen to be wrong they can’t back down, which is totally understandable because then every jackass they legitimately throw out thinks they’re justified in arguing back.

        The last time I went to a bar a bouncer accused me of “falling asleep at the bar” and cut me off.  It was a bizarre accusation from my perspective as I was completely wide awake and just barely starting to feel any kind of buzz from the liquor.  But there’s just no arguing at that point, the decision has been made.

        1. Fair enough.  I’d never ask somebody to leave unless they were actually nodding off.  That’s a judgement call and they have the right to tell somebody to leave, that’s the only real authority staff has, unlike security guards or police, so I’m not sure I’d lump them in with people dealing with theft.  I’ll also add that a lot of bar patrons seem to have a revisionist view on their actions the next day.  There are some very funny rants on yelp from drinkers who were sure they did nothing wrong.  Events that I witnessed personally:

          “I was just being cool playing pinball”…..(actually you were warned *several* times to stop smacking your pint glass (very hard) on the pinball glass for obvious reasons, before finally being told to bounce)

          “This place wants to be a library, they cut me off for nothing!”  (actually you were screaming at the top of your lungs at  a young couple next to you that you were going “to kill them” and everyone else)

          And so on….

          1. Yes, it’s a judgment call — that’s pretty much the whole point I was making.  Once someone in a position of authority like that makes a judgment call its difficult or impossible for them to back out of it without compromising their authority.  That’s why I tried to make clear I wasn’t making a moral judgment, bouncers are going to make mistakes sometimes because as you say they only have one button to press if they see something they don’t like. 

            That said, some bouncers are better than others.  Most places I go to the bouncers seem to realize that I’m one of a very few human males less threatening than Alan Alda and let me do my thing.  The bouncers at the “falling asleep” place seem like they’re on hair trigger to me. 

          2. Daniel,
            I don’t doubt it.  I may be a bit defensive, but I work in a cool bar and know very cool fellow “doormen” as we’d rather say.  I’m sure there are more “clubby” places where you’ve got a bunch of apes “security” with a lot of ‘tude looking to mess with patrons.  That’s a world I avoid though.  At our place we just want to make sure you’re 21 and aren’t ruining it for other people, or the employees.

          3. I’ve never gone to a bar that needed a bouncer. If a patron got out of line, the other customers would just critique his look until he fled in tears.

      2. I have run into this myself personally — quietly sitting at a table on a deck at the bar & getting screamed at and thrown out by a completely irrational bouncer.  My crime?  Supposedly smuggling a beer in from the outside (didn’t happen).. The real reason?  White bouncer, primarily white bar in the south…. and I was a white woman in a small group of people of various races.  We all left.  These things do happen, and they are not uncommon

    1. Thanks!  I guess section 1 kinda covers it.  It’s not as explicit as it could be, since it only describes ‘entering’ and ‘attempts to enter’.  Note, in this case, since we have no information, he may have entered legally, and then stayed, thus becoming illegal, but not qualifying in any of those listed statutes.

      1. Good point! Though a person who received a certain type of limited purpose visa, but intended to overstay it from the start would be liable under subparagraph (a)(3) I believe. An example would be someone who received a visa to study at an American university, but never intended to actually enroll and never went to any classes.

        But it appears that simply overstaying a visa in and of itself only gets you deported. Or maybe at most the person would have to pay a civil fine.

        1. As a Canadian Citizen, I can enter without a Visa. So I can’t have an ‘overstay’ on one…which makes it a whole lot harder based on the quoted law.  I’m not against deportation (for the most part), but one would think that this is something challengable, as it seems to be poorly written.  That being said, it’s only the criminal side of this that is here…there is likely Immigration Law that covers this more explicitly.  My reading of it is basically it’s a crime if they GRANT you entry via forms (Visas…), but not for a ‘regular’ crossing, unless you present false evidence of your ability to enter…and then don’t leave.  Deportation in either case.

          1. Interesting points that I don’t think can be answered without more in-depth legal research. Immigration law isn’t my specialty; I’m just a laid-off lawyer jonesing to research some real issues. I really want to answer your question, but unfortunately I need to focus on the job search.

          2. As a Canadian citizen you have no ‘right’ to enter the US.  You can be granted the privileged to enter the Unites States of American for up to 90 days without being required to obtain a visa.  You would not overstay your visa, you overstay your directed departure via the date stamped in your passport.  Were you to overstay you would be liable to be deported or face a fine and jail time.  

  15. The account does seem a bit fishy. I mean, even if the security guard was going berserk, why would the police arrest the couple? If the chicken necks were clearly on the receipt, and the video footage showed them scanning the item…it just doesn’t make sense. I’m thinking some crucial bit of information has been left out of the complainant’s account of the incident. Such as “The couple was also wanted on a number of other charges.” The security guard may be a racist jerk, and his response to the situation may have been as over the top as is portrayed here…but the resulting fallout just doesn’t make sense. Jailed without bail for $2.90? Yeah, sure.

    1. That’s why the police are also being sued for “failure to investigate”. For far too long, the police, and others in positions of power are ALWAYS right.  They are not infallible.  But, then, it turns out that in reality, they’re no better than the rest of us.  Yet, even with all the procedures they have, something as simple as looking at a piece of paper, that was VERIFIED by the manager, was skipped. 

    2. Agreed – I would prefer a unbiased account of the event.  I can’t believe that anyone, even in Alabama would be that unhinged. The article as written is comically one sided.

  16. Once you have paid for your stuff, they have no right to look it unless they choose to detain you for shoplifting, which means they better have probable cause. Just say no to the people checking your receipt.

    Do they have the right to demand to see the receipt for what you are wearing?

    Of course, at Costco and such, you agreed to let them check your receipt when you joined.

  17. You know what? Some of those towns are just being eaten up by walmart and are basically becoming ghost towns. It would not surprise me that the group of people involved staged this to sue walmart for a LOT of money, and perhaps so the woman could dump her beau off.
    Can you honestly say that there aren’t thousands of desperate people who wouldn’t pull this off for a few million in settlement money?

    1. It would not surprise me that the group of people involved staged this
      to sue walmart for a LOT of money, and perhaps so the woman could dump
      her beau off.

      Yeah, that’s the most *logical* conclusion to jump to…………

    2. It would surprise me that an undocumented immigrant would a) put himself in a position where he might get arrested/deported, b) mire himself in a convoluted scheme that involves spending a lot of time in courts and around authority figures.  It would surprise me if people who obviously don’t have a lot of spare money engaged in a convoluted legal scam that would involve retaining lawyers, organizing a court case, and being on the hook for thousands of dollars if they lose.

      But even ignoring how much incentive the couple had not to engage in some weird conspiracy theory, it’s not clear to me how you think this “scam” would work.  Did they steal the item to provoke the guard?  Then how could they justify a lawsuit?  But if they paid for the item, then how can you claim they were trying to provoke the guard at all? 

  18. This sounds like a case for 4chan. Turn this assholes life upside down like he turned their life upside down. Racist prick.

    Where would America be without immigrants? I’m always amazed by how kind, generous and decent every single one of these ‘dangerous Mexican immigrants’ I’ve ever met has been.

    Par for course for AL. I have a friend who, a month before getting his masters in teaching, was expelled because a couple male students from a school he was student teaching at found their way to a drugs and alcohol free jam session at his house, and he didn’t kick them out.

    He got to keep the debt, but got no credit whatsoever for his years of study.

    FCK LBM.

    1. What school? Was it a private college with some kind of religious affiliation and a “code of conduct”?

    2. Wow. That’s awesome that EVERY SINGLE person from Mexico you’ve EVER met was “kind, generous and decent.” I’ve never been fortunate enough to have that experience with EVERY SINGLE member of any nationality.

      I also like that you say FUCK ALABAMA (EVERY SINGLE Alabaman?) without any apparent irony.

      1. At least fuck the half of Alabama that VOTED to make interracial marriage ILLEGAL – post-2000, not some old vote. Yeah. Pretty high percentage of assholes in Alabama.

  19. Having read the article, and observing some slight bias in the writing, I still think the security guard is the problem here.

    The logical, analytical part of my brain is glad the false charges were dropped, but restitution is needed.

    The emotional part of my brain thinks people like the security guard and his wife are reason enough for a newer, better use for Guantanamo Bay as a nice little hotel for those with anti-immigration sentiments of this degree (who can’t seem to fathom the concept that our nation was formed and populated by immigrants). Not possible, I know. Just a little wishful thinking…

  20. Funny, I can’t seem to find an actual newspaper or other legitimate source that is running this story — sounds like it’ll show up on Snopes any day now.

    1. I catch shoplifters for a living and get crazy lawsuits like this all the time. I seriously doubt it went down like this. It doesn’t even make simple logical sense. When the cops showed up, where was the crime? When when the guy got to the police station, no one there looked at the report? The d.a. Pressed charges on what? I bet this is a bogus suit. I’ve had my share over the years. 

      Also, it depends on the state, but store security usually has a different chain if command going all the way up to a V.P.  For many reasons. I can thi k of no worse setup for travesties than having managers who know nothing about the job making decisions on it. They are not experts at that profession. The loss prevention people are. Also, most states allow use if force to detain thieves. It’s older than the written law. The “shopkeepers privilege” is common law. You can get physical if you have to, to detain someone who is stealing. 

      And although  walmarts LP agents are the clowns of the industry, I still don’t believe ut went down like this. It would require way too many people to fail at common sense. Way too many. Lp agent, manager, a group of cops. Cops at city jail, DA. Judge, see what I mean? Nothing was even taken? Yeah right.

      I could go on forever because I do that for a living but one last thing-in any shoplift lawsuit, where the arrestee is one rave and the Lp guy another, race will be mentioned in the suit. If you think lawyers are unwilling to put racist words in spmeones mouth, I have a bridge to sell you. I could think of a scenario where an Lp guy asks questions about a persons country if origin if they have no valid ID or refuse to identify themselves whole typing his report, and I could see an already offended person get pissed about that. 
      Or, it happened just like the suit says, I don’t f-ing know, I wasnt there. None of us were. 

      1. I apologize for the typos, im on my phone. Should have proofread, but was busy fighting with my registration and login, sorry.

      2. “Also, most states allow use if force to detain thieves. It’s older than
        the written law. The “shopkeepers privilege” is common law. You can get
        physical if you have to, to detain someone who is stealing. ”

        Uhh, I’m pretty sure that getting physical would get you an assault charge in every state unless it was proven in self defense. I work in retail and have a few friends in loss prevention and I’ve never heard of this ‘shopkeepers privilege’. Please cite.

  21. I guess that’s what you get shopping at Walmart.

    “Welcome to Costco, I love you”

  22. Shoplifting is defined as a “crime involving moral turpitide” – that is, it falls under the category of intentionally lying, cheating or stealing. Crimes involving moral turpitude trigger the “expedited deportation” rules, where the alleged illegal immigrant can be deported without a hearing – either on the crime or on his immigration status.  If it hasn’t happened yet, it’s just a matter of time before it happens to a native-born US citizen by mistake.  (Or perhaps not by mistake. Do you forfeit citizenship if you leave your house without your driver’s license, passport and birth certificate? Under today’s laws, perhaps you do.)

  23. I’m just a regular joe like all you guys, and I have to say, it’s pretty clear the couple is making it all up.

    Walmart has a proven track record of kindness, basic human decency, friendly and productive competition with neighborhood stores, and above all, high-quality fair trade goods.

    I mean, who are we kidding! Let’s just drop the case and enjoy a smooth & refreshing Great Value Ginger Ale-flavored water beverage.

  24. I work in a store with a security guard who is hired via an outside company, so he is not a store associate – according to his company and our company, all a security guard can really do is ask the person to stay there while we review footage and call the police. He can’t/doesn’t carry any weapons, and technically can’t restrain the suspects (though apparently they can put a hand on the suspect’s shoulders, should they leave, for all of our safety, we have to let them go. That’s why in many cases, if we find a shoplifter, someone is checking the cameras, someone else is calling the mall police/security, and the guard is talking to the person. Overall, we rely on his intimidating presence to prevent and handle shoplifters more than anything. Plus, it gives us an extra set of eyes that aren’t doing anything but keeping an eye on people while the staff does staff stuff. However, I think the authority of a security guard varies by state, town and company. I worked in a shopping center where the security guards were former cops who could carry handguns and cuffs and use them if needed.

    As for the small amount of money wasting police time – I do agree, but now that I work in retail again, I also understand the ‘we always prosecute’ policy. My store is required to call the police for *ever* shoplifter, no matter how much they stole or how old they are. It’s sad, sometimes, but on the other hand…I work in an area with a high theft rate, and we can quickly lose quite a bit of money (I work in a mall bookstore) from shoplifting. When people think they can get away with it, or pay after the fact (I just *love* when we catch someone stealing a 20$ book, and they offer to pay with some of the 150$ they have in their pocket…I’d rather have NOT gone to jail and spent the 20!) they continue to try and steal from us.

    1. Even though it wasn’t directed at me, I think I was the first one to say it, so I’ll respond.
      I guess when I mentioned not getting the police involved for something this small, what would have been more accurate to say was not having charges laid.  Yes, call the cops for all of them…even if they get away. 

      1. Oh, I agree. Its a waste, really. Though my company will prosecute for any amount when they can – my store’s LP guy is in court at least every other month – though AFAIK, they plead out more often than not. Its a cross between store policy that I agree with (as an employee who has to deal with douchebags) and a policy I disagree with as it can often be a waste of time – prosecuting a 16 year old stealing something under 20 bucks? Sometimes, with some kids, a firm lecture and familial humiliation are enough. Worked on me when I was 12 – stole some make up, got a call to my mom. That was almost worse than the police…

  25. For those who didn’t read the full 18-page complaint:

    1. The only information available to us is the court filing itself. The Courthouse News Service page linked to in the OP has no further info, just excerpts from the complaint and provides a link to it.

    2. The first five pages of the filing make it almost look like something done by the non-legally trained plaintiff herself, or by a part-time assistant or paralegal in their first week on the job. There’s even an instance of “we” instead of “Plaintiff” (“They stood in front of video so we couldn’t see it”, p.4).

    3. The non-U.S.-citizen husband was Mexican.

    4. If the plaintiff’s attorneys are as amateurish as the complaint suggests, it might not be surprising that they list their e-mail addresses at the end as all being Yahoo accounts.

    1. OR….this whole thing is IMAGINARY!  A hoax made up just to see how many people leap on it and rant on ad nauseum?  Bloody hell, folks.  Dust off your critical thinking skills.  It’s just possible that something like this could have happened but is it likely? 

  26. Mary was never fired from Wal-Mart:

    -Upon being informed that Mary Hill Bonin was a ’Wal-Mart” employee, the security guard called Alabaster Wal-Mart” and asked to speak to one of the managers at the Alabaster ’Wal-Mart” and said they had one of their ex-employees, Mary Hill Bonin, that she was being charged with a Theft of Property in the Third Degree.  He made Plaintiff look bad or $$$ insinuated she had a bad character.  Plaintiff had a lot of friends at the Alabaster ’Wal-Mart” and Plaintiff feels this was done with the intention to make her look bad in front of her friends.  Plaintiff’s sister worked in the Deli at the ’Wal-Mart” in Alabaster and she heard about this incident from other employees at this ’Wal-Mart” who were talking about Plaintiff.- 

  27. And for the Boingers who posted about the TIME PERIOD:

    -The plaintiff further avers that said criminal proceedings terminated in the Plaintiffs favor on or about July 21, 2010, when said criminal case was nol prossed on motion of the Municipal court of Adamsville.- 

  28. So yes Wal-Mart, you suck! You destroyed this woman’s and man’s life from 2007-2010 then: 
    Nolle prossed (prosequi) is a declaration made by a prosecutor in a criminal case either before or during trial, meaning the case against the defendant is being dropped. The declaration may be made because the charges cannot be proved, the evidence has demonstrated either innocence or a fatal flaw in the prosecution’s claim, or the prosecutor no longer thinks the accused is guilty, and/or the accused has died. It is generally made after indictment, but is not a guarantee that the person will not be reindicted.

  29. Maybe the security guard thinks he owns the chicken and was mad at the couple for taking it.

  30. It’s always a bad idea to put an insecure loser in a uniform and give him a little authority, but that is exactly what cheapo security companies do. 

  31. Please post the full name and address of the tool rent a cop that so viciously turned these decent people in.  Whats good for the goose.

  32. Never ever show your receipt to a security guard or door person. The transaction is completed by that receipt. No one has a right to check your bags or receipt. They are your property, not the stores. When they ask for a receipt just say “No thanks, I wasn’t over charged” and keep walking.
    If a store employee thinks you have stolen something, remain calm, do not discuss the situation further, and try to walk away. If they attempt to prevent you from leaving the store demand to see the police. Let the police decide if something is stolen. If the police think something was stolen remain silent and ask for your lawyer. If nothing was stolen, inform the police officer that you would like to press charges criminal against the store.

  33. As others have noted, this is very much the plaintiffs’ version of
    events. I think there has to be a lot more going on here all around.

    As an experienced immigration attorney, I can say from
    everything I’ve read on this case (including the complaint) that the husband must have either entered
    illegally (with no visa at all, even one he overstayed) or had a
    criminal record that rendered him completely inadmissible for residency, even without a waiver. (To clarify a common misconception: we will forgive overstaying a visa or illegal employment–and even some minor criminal offenses–for those who marry US citizens, but there is simply no way to obtain residency through marriage to a US citizen if you entered the US without some kind of legal authorization.)

    I don’t know how they do things in Alabama, but no immigration judge
    I’ve ever heard of would deport someone who was otherwise eligible to
    adjust to residency without giving him a chance to apply for it. I read through the complaint pretty carefully, and I think there is a very good reason they’re not getting into the facts of the deportation. Walmart will likely be able to respond that they were simply calling ICE like any citizen would once he couldn’t produce proper ID, and that this isn’t the kind of thing that people should be able to recover damages on. They may have a point, at least as far as that goes.

  34.    Wal-Mart has their own twisted little agenda in effect regarding shoplifting. Years ago, I went to Wally World with a guy I knew at the time. While shopping, it seems he pocketed some DVDs without my knowledge and we were nabbed on the way out. Of course, they found nothing on me and even though they could see on the video that i was nowhere near him when the theft took place I was charged just the same. Thecops simply accepted the employees assertation that I had also stolen something, despite the evidence to the contrary…they didn’t even look at the video. To top it off, a few weeks after I was arrested I received a letter from Wal-Mart stating that I was required to pay for the DVDs…the ones I had not touched and that had not left the store. The guy I was at the store with also received the letter.
       I realize this isn’t exactly on the topic but I mention it to demonstrate the weird little relationship Wally World and the cops seem to have, at least in my area.

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