Father claims racial profiling after teen girls mistaken for shoplifting suspects in Chesapeake

Chesapeake

CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) — A Chesapeake father wants justice after he said his daughter was among a group of girls wrongly locked inside a business for a crime they didn’t commit.

“My daughter and her friends won’t ever forget about that, so I just think that’s wrong,” parent Reubin Houston.

Police said the incident happened last Friday at Coco Beauty Supply in the Parkview Shopping Center.

The owner of the store said back on Dec. 28, a group of girls stole more than $1,000 worth of merchandise.

In an attempt to catch them, the owner printed off a surveillance picture of the girls and handed them out to nearby businesses.

Then, this past Friday, Houston said his 16-year-old daughter and three of her teenage friends were at the Subway in that same shopping center when they noticed a security guard following them.

Houston said they walked into the beauty supply store a few storefronts down.

Shortly after entering and buying a hair brush, Houston said a manager locked the girls inside.

“My daughter asked them, ‘Why? why can’t we leave?’ She says you’ll find out,” Houston said about the girls’ interaction with the manager.

Chesapeake Police said they were called and responded about 10 minutes later.

After a quick investigation, police realized the girls were not involved with the previous shoplifting incident and they were let go.

Houston filed a police report, and said he believes this was a case of racial profiling.

“I’m personally thinking everybody is going to be a suspect if you have braids and weave and you’re black. I mean, even the kids are suspects now. I guess mine was,” said Houston.

10 On Your Side spoke with the beauty supply manager who locked the girls inside.

She said it all started because a Subway employee called security on the girls thinking they looked like the suspects.

She sincerely apologized, and said she only locked them in because the security guard told her to.

10 On Your Side spoke to the security guard, who denied telling the manager to lock the door. He said he was only involved because a Subway employee called him, and he then called the police.

He said he also helped hand out the flyers.

He provided 10 On Your Side a picture of a written statement from the Subway employee.

The statement said: “Served the girls then security brought us a picture of the suspects, noticed one was sitting eating and alerted security and dialed 911.”

A police spokesman said the girls should not have been locked in the store. Police are consulting with the city commonwealth’s attorney to see how to move forward, including the possibility of abduction charges.

However, there is a section of Virginia Code that may put protections in place for those who locked the doors.

The law does allow store loss prevention officers to detain a person for a period not to exceed one hour pending arrival of the police if he or she has probable cause to believe that person has shoplifted.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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