High-profile civil rights attorney, Ben Crump, joins Jacksonville mom’s case against Publix

Jacksonville, FL. — A nationally recognized civil rights attorney has joined the legal team for a Jacksonville mom who’s suing Publix.

Attorney Ben Crump, who is also currently representing the family of George Floyd, was in Jacksonville Thursday for a news conference along with two local law firms Holland Law and the Combs Greene law firm.

In June of 2020, Action News Jax showed you the body camera video Tawanda Crowell getting tased and arrested outside of a westside Publix.

The video shows part of what happened on Feb. 4 when an off-duty JSO Officer Kevin Munger confronted Crowell in a Publix parking lot after she was accused of shoplifting and demanded to see her receipt.

“I did show the receipt I just refused to give the receipt at that point because I didn’t know what would happen with the receipt but I did offer to go back inside with the receipt, he refused to take me back inside,” she said.

“One of the things that I pride myself on with our law firm is making sure that marginalized people of color constitutional rights are not trampled on,” said Crump.

Crowell was eventually tased and arrested in front her goddaughter and nieces.

“The emotional stress that it has brought on me and my children I feel like it wasn’t right,” said Crowell.

In a 35-page complaint Publix is accused of not training employees or off duty officers in proper loss prevention techniques and sues the grocer for more than $50,000 in damages.

“We are here to demand that Publix offer an apology to Tawanda Crowell and if not, we will continue with litigation so she could restore her name,” said Crump.

Attorney Jamie Holland said the JSO body camera video is not the only video that exists.

“There are people out there that we believe caught this on cell phone video, if you have that evidence please come forward,” said Holland.

Action News Jax asked why is only Publix named in the lawsuit?

“Publix created this system. This officer, why would he have a loss prevention training working for JSO, he needed loss prevention training because he was working at Publix,” said Combs.

Crump believes, Crowell’s skin color played a role in this case.

“She was assumed guilty for shopping while Black,” said Crump.

Back in December Publix asked the judge to rule in its favor saying in part:

Publix was not Officer Munger’s employer, therefore, Publix cannot be vicariously liable for Officer Munger’s actions. Moreover, Publix cannot be liable for alleged slander when no false statement was made…”

Even though the state attorney dropped the charges against Crowell she still lost her job because of the arrest.

Her legal team has also requested that Publix release its surveillance video of the incident.

Action News Jax reached out to Publix twice on Thursday for comment but we haven’t heard back from its media relations team yet.