PORTLAND -- A jury awarded $105,000 Monday to a 59-year-old African-American woman who was falsely accused of shoplifting at the H&M clothing store at the Clackamas Town Center mall.
Brenda Moaning was one of hundreds of shoppers to flock to the opening days of the store in May 2011, but she said she was singled out by loss-prevention officers because she is black.
Moaning said she was roughed-up, yelled at and that H&M store surveillance cameras isolated on her every move while she shopped.
She said there were other shoppers in the store, but she was the only African American.
“Why are they targeting me?” She asked in a court deposition. Moaning was followed for 15 minutes by the security guards even though she wasn’t doing anything suspicious, according to attorney Jason Kafoury.
Security video clearly shows Moaning paying for her items. But then she decided to buy an additional shirt. She paid for it in advance. The clerk told her to get it off the rack on her way out. Moaning got the shirt and walked back to the counter and showed it to the clerk.
At that point security guards grab Moaning, wrenching her wrists behind her. Her purse was taken and searched, and the guard said she “looks like a common thief,” according to a deposition filed with the court.
Kafoury said the guards eventually interviewed the cashier and realized they had made a mistake.
In her deposition, Moaning said the incident has changed her outlook on the world. “[I] feel like I'm being watched if I go in the dressing room, take anything in the dressing room.”
Multnomah County jurors said Moaning didn't prove racial discrimination, but they said H&M employees had committed false arrest and acted with malice.
Chris Willis contributed to this report