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North Charleston city councilman suing Best Buy for profiling

North Charleston City Councilman Mike Brown has filed a lawsuit against national electronics retailer Best Buy over an alleged case of profiling at the chain’s North Charleston store in March. (File/WCIV)

North Charleston City Councilman Mike Brown has filed a lawsuit against national electronics retailer Best Buy over an alleged case of profiling at the chain’s North Charleston store in March.

According to Brown in the lawsuit filed May 12, he went into the Best Buy on Rivers Avenue March 28 to look at a type of electronic cable.

Brown says he looked through some of the items with a store employee helping him, but says he ultimately decided not to buy the cable.

As he was leaving, however, Brown says a Best Buy employee stopped him and accused him of attempting to steal items from the store.

In the lawsuit, Brown claims the employee admitted to stopping him because Brown was wearing a hoodie.

Brown maintains he stole nothing, nor did he attempt to. Police were called, and Brown was not charged with a crime.

Brown is suing Best Buy on allegations of defamation by slander for falsely accusing him of attempting to steal from the store, and negligence for how it publicly handled the incident and treated him.

Brown is asking a court to order Best Buy to compensate him financially for damages he says he suffered as a result of the incident, and to pay for his legal fees.

Brown published a Facebook Live video after the incident, in which he laid out his case for profiling.

"You think I cannot afford a $10 doggone cord? ... I can buy a cord," Brown said.

The councilman said profiling happens, and said it isn't just racial profiling. He believes it also happens based on how people are dressed in a store.

"I'm telling 'yall, this stuff has got to stop," Brown said.

Best Buy issued the following statement on the matter after the March incident:

While we are still reviewing exactly what happened in our North Charleston store, it appears that we handled the situation poorly. Because of that, we have apologized to Mr. Brown and we realize we need to continually improve moving forward. Best Buy is deeply committed to delivering an environment of respect that all of our customers and employees deserve and we will be revisiting our training procedures.

To view the lawsuit in full, see below.


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