As you can see in the video above, Fox 9's experience at the Eagan outlet mall didn't go very well. But it's nothing compared to what happened to 4 African-American shoppers on the afternoon of Wednesday, March 11.
Accused of shoplifting an $11 eyeliner, they were quickly surrounded by 6 Eagan police officers. Their purchases ended up all over the ground.
"I put my hands up after they snatched my purchase and it fell to the ground, said Chante McCoy.
McCoy, her fiance Art Haggins, and friend Toni Walton said they were publicly humiliated, even though they spent $300 during their first 20 minutes at the mall. Even Walton's 13-year-old daughter was searched.
But police never found an eyeliner, and instead of an apology for the inconvenience, they were given a no trespass order and told they couldn't come back for a year.
Asked how he thinks his officers handled himself after watching the video, Eagan Police Chief James McDonald said, "I think they did fine." McDonald noted that they've had 31 shoplifting calls at the outlet mall this year, and respond with multiple officers because shoplifters often work in groups. The chief says mall officials asked police to issue the no trespass order.
"We live in America," McDonald says. "If someone doesn't want you on their property for any reason they can ask you. It's not for us to debate that."
But on Facebook, where the video is quickly going viral, many are saying it's classic racial profiling. (Watch the raw video for yourself here.) Mall customers we talked to said the footage just doesn't pass the smell test.
"Wonder what would've happened if they were white?" one said, and another added, "We were hesitant to come here -- just saw this."
Twin Cities Premium Outlets statement
Twin Cities Premium Outlets strictly enforces its code of conduct to maintain a safe shopping environment for all customers. We are inviting the customers involved in this matter back to the property so they can continue to enjoy everything that TCPO has to offer.
The above statement differs from an earlier statement given to Fox 9:
At 12:20 p.m. on March 10, center security received a call from a store manager about an alleged shoplifting incident. The safety of our shoppers is our number one priority, and our security officer acted swiftly and efficiently in notifying the Eagan Police Department. Alerting the Eagan PD is our standard procedure when responding to any alleged criminal activity.
Police report released
On Friday, Eagan police provided their reports on the incident, which indicate the initial call came from mall security, who said the suspects had stolen product from The Cosmetic Company Store. An employee at the store told police, "She did not see the individuals take the items, but they were missing $121 in product after the group left."
The employee said they had recently done an inventory and told one officer she was "99.5 percent" sure they had stolen the items. She told another officer she was 95 percent sure. The clerk said the suspects also knocked over a display item. After looking at store surveillance officers could not determine if anything had been stolen.
On the video, the officers never say the shoppers of suspected of stealing $121 in product, and only reference an $11 eyeliner.
Additionally, a Computer Assisted Dispatch (CAD) report from Eagan police indicates the security guard was watching through a window, but "can't see thru (sic) winds due to sun reflection."
No stolen items were ever found on the suspects.