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Lawsuit: Wrong man detained by West Chester police at Meijer

Lawsuit: Wrong man detained by West Chester police at Meijer
Published: Feb. 4, 2022 at 2:36 PM EST
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WEST CHESTER TOWNSHIP, Ohio (WXIX) - Two West Chester police officers and Meijer are named in a lawsuit filed by a Butler County man who alleges he was illegally detained in yet another example of a Black person being confronted by law enforcement while going about everyday life and doing nothing illegal.

In this case, Eric Lindsay of Liberty Township says he went to the Meijer store off Interstate 75 and Tylersviller Road on his way home from work Jan. 29, 2021.

He just happened to arrive at the store after a shoplifting offense, walking in behind the officers who responded to it.

Lindsay is a Black man in his 60s. He wore an orange puffy coat with a tan and brown scarf that night.

The suspect was described to police by representatives of Meijer as a white man in his 30s wearing a green or gray Carhart coat with a red hoodie underneath.

Yet police stopped Lindsay. The suit alleges unlawful detention and says Lindsay suffered humiliation, embarrassment and severe emotional distress.

“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.

Lindsay’s attorney, Fanon Rucker, said Lindsay was the only African-American in the store 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 said.

The suit names Officers Tanner Csendes and Tim Mintkenbaugh; John and Jane Does and ABC Corporations.

The Meijer store manager should have immediately realized Lindsay wasn’t the white man they were looking for.

The lawsuit says the manager “did nothing to prevent or stop the unconstitutional detention.”

Rucker says he obtained police bodycam video in which Csendes is heard saying to Mitkenbaugh that Lindsay was watching him.

Lindsay was not handcuffed or arrested. He was questioned for several minutes in an aisle as other shoppers looked on, Rucker said.

One of the officers told Lindsay the suspect wore a tan jacket, Rucker said, and Lindsay told them, using an expletive out of frustration, that he was clearly wearing orange.

The officers learned another officer had the shoplifting suspect in custody, according to the lawsuit.

Rucker said Mintkenbaugh apologized to Lindsay, telling him he matched the description they were given and Meijer’s store manager told him it was a “big mistake.”

FOX19 NOW requested comment from a township spokeswoman and the police chief.

Barb Wilson, West Chester’s spokeswoman, said the township doesn’t comment on pending litigation.

We also reached out to a representative for Meijer. She responded that she forwarded our request to Meijer corporate officials.

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