CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - A local couple believes they were the victims of racial profiling after they say they were stopped leaving a Walmart and police were called. And it was all, they say, for wearing masks per CDC guidelines.
Roger Jones says it started out as a normal Saturday run to the Walmart near Mountain Island Lake to purchase mulch.
“My wife and I were doing a home improvement project like most other folks suffering through the quarantine,” Jones said.
Jones showed WBTV the receipts showing he paid for 25 bags of mulch. He then began loading the mulch into their vehicle.
"I looked up and we could see, the both of us could see, the store manager come running in our direction, running so fast she was dropping items... as well as two sheriff’s deputies running in our direction.”
Concerned, Jones took a picture of the deputies on his phone.
He thought the deputies and the store manager were aggressive, but he calmly showed the receipt to a manager. That’s when, he says, the deputies escalated the situation.
“A third deputy comes running out and then also another area manager came running out to continue to question us in regards to something we had already shown that we had paid for,” he said.
He said it appeared that one of the deputies even lowered his hand towards his weapon.
Concerned, he started recording the conversation on his phone.
“Once I hit record on the phone, to record the interaction, the third deputy on the scene, once my wife started to ask questions, told my wife to shut up, get over it, and get on with her day,” Jones said.
In the video recording, Roger Jones’ wife is heard saying, "Three police officers with guns running out here because we paid for mulch?”
Roger Jones said, "Everything’s paid for. You go your way, we’ll go ours. Everything’s paid for, but don’t talk to my wife that way though.”
A Walmart Employee said, "Well, like she was saying, we apologize if it seemed like that.”
The store manager allegedly told Jones they had been having trouble with people in masks stealing from the store and Jones was wearing a mask.
“With 80 percent of the people in your store because of COVID-19 wearing masks, why me? Why did you choose me to stop in that particular point in time?” Jones asked.
A Walmart spokesperson wouldn’t answer that question, but replied with this statement:
“One of Walmart’s founding principles was respect for the individual, and that belief is equally important today.
"After speaking with those related to the alleged incident you’ve asked about, we’ve determined it was a routine receipt check following a purchase in the store’s Garden Center.”
WBTV also reached out to the Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office. A spokeswoman said the incident was under investigation but did confirm that “three MCSCO deputies walked over to Roger Jones and his wife at the request of a Walmart clerk.”
“Of all the people in the store, of all the people here at this particular location, why did you choose me?” Jones continues to ask.
Walmart claims the incident was captured on a security camera. However, when WBTV asked for a copy of the tape, they refused.
Jones says he still wants to know why three sheriff’s deputies were called to confront him.