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Tawanda Crowell Suing Publix After Being Tased Over Shoplifting Allegations



A woman in Florida is suing Publix after a police officer at a Jacksonville location accused her of shoplifting, tased her and arrested her over food she rightfully purchased.

Tawanda Crowell, a resident of Duval County, was arrested and accused of shoplifting at a Publix in February 2020.

According to police body camera footage, obtained by WCNC, Crowell was approached in the grocery store parking lot by a Jacksonville police officer after she purchased food for her granddaughter. The officer, identified as Kevin Munger, according to News4Jax, approached Crowell after alleging that a Publix employee said they did not see her store receipt when she left.

But Crowell, who is Black, refused to show her receipt and accused Munger of racially profiling her.

“I do not steal,” Crowell said repeatedly, adding, “Y’all profile Black people every day like that.”

Crowell offered to go inside the store to look at the camera footage of her purchase, and repeatedly refused to show her receipt and identification. After several minutes of arguing, Munger said he would arrest and tase Crowell.

“I’m going to tase you right now. Get out of the car. I’m going to tase you right now,” Munger said.

Crowell was charged with resisting an officer without violence. She was held in jail for 24 hours, First Coast News reported.

Following her arrest, Munger discovered Crowell’s receipt, which showed she rightfully purchased the food.

A Florida woman is suing Publix over shoplifting allegations in Jacksonville. In the photo, a Publix is seen early February 8, 2002, in Norcross, Georgia.
Erik S. Lesser/Getty Images

Crowell is suing Publix for $50,000 in damages with the help of a nationally recognized civil rights attorney, Ben Crump, News4Jax reported.

Crump, with co-counsels Steve Combs and Jamie Holland, are alleging that Crowell suffered physical and mental trauma, and lost her job due to the incident.

In a statement issued last week, the team alleged that Publix is at fault for hiring “off-duty uniformed police to work in its stores but doesn’t provide any training specific to working in a retail environment.”

“After Tawanda, a Black woman, went into Publix and bought dinner for her young daughter that she was raising as well as her nieces, she returned to her car and was accosted by one of these armed police officers,” the statement said.

“While seeking justice for Tawanda, the legal team will be investigation Publix’s use of armed police officers, it’s [sic] practice of not providing any additional training to these off-duty officers, and the sufficiency of the training to its cashiers and other store employees, with special attention to the dangers presented to Publix’s Black shoppers.”

Crump addressed the incident during a Thursday press conference.

“The fundamental issue here is this police officer being empowered by Publix to harass this Black woman for shopping while Black,” he said, News4Jax reported.

According to the news outlet, court documents show that Publix stated that the officer was not one of its employees, and that the store did not ask him to make an arrest. Further, the store said it relies on trained officers from the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office to perform their duties, News4Jax reported.

A spokesperson for the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office told WCNC that Munger’s actions were investigated, and he was cleared.

“This incident and actions by the officer were investigated by the Internal Affairs Unit by way of a formal complaint,” the spokesperson said in a statement. “Officer K. Munger’s actions were cleared by way of the body-worn camera video.”

The Liberty Buzz contacted Publix and Crump for additional comment but did not hear back in time for publication.



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