JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A Jacksonville mother, Tawanda Crowell, is suing Publix Supermarkets, Inc. after she was accused of stealing food and arrested by a JSO officer.
After an Action News Jax request, the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office released the police worn body camera footage from this incident.
As a warning, some of the video is difficult to watch.
The body camera video begins with the officer confronting Crowell about theft accusations in the Publix parking lot. The officer asks to see her receipt but she refuses. Crowell denies any claims that she stole food and asks to go back inside the store to speak with an employee to get the situation resolves. The officer does not allow that and asks to see her receipt again.
The conversation continues for a few minutes until the officer announces Crowell is under arrest. Crowell initially does not get out of the vehicle and asks to speak to his supervisor. The officer threatens to tase her if she does not comply with his orders. Crowell then exits the vehicle but tensions rise. The clip then shows Crowell being tased by the officer and then arrested.
Action News Jax reporter Elizabeth Pace shows Crowell and her Attorney, Steve Combs, the video for the first time Monday. Combs said his initial request for JSO body camera video in February was denied.
“I was upset,” Crowell said. “I was angry at the fact that it was happening in front of my kids. I asked him not to do it. We could’ve resolved it by going back into the store and showing my receipt by he proceeded in a different manner.”
Pace asked Crowell why she did not comply with the officer. Crowell said that clip does not show everything that happened before it. She claims that she showed the officer receipt before that but the video does not show it.
“The part that we don’t see is the receipt was held up,” Crowell said. “It wasn’t the fact that I didn’t show the receipt, it was the fact that I didn’t hand it to him. I just feel like I was actually being racially profiled. Even though I see it a lot on tv and stuff it was different being in that moment.”
“I had just been in the store,” Crowell continued to say. “I purchased my items, he (officer) bagged my items. I came out and that was it. When he approached me, it was in a manner in which I thought he was joking. But once I seen that we wasn’t joking the situation changed and I asked for a sergeant and I didn’t get that.”
“I think it’s absolutely reasonable if you have a been a subject of racial profiling,” Combs said after watching the video. “You have offered to show the receipt. You have offered to walk in. you asked for them to call a lieutenant. It’s not surprising that someone would have such righteous indignation as she displayed during that encounter.”
More body camera videos show the officer later found Crowell’s receipt in her vehicle. However, in the video he said Crowell was under arrest because she did not comply with his orders. Another off-duty officer watched Crowell’s kids in her vehicle until family picked them up. Jacksonville Fire Rescue EMS arrived and offered to assist with the removal of the taser darts. Crowell requested to be taken to the hospital.
After several hours, Crowell was taken to the hospital and then jail. She was charged with resisting arrest without violence, but it was later dropped by the State Attorney’s Office.
Action News Jax reached out to JSO about this case. A spokesperson said an internal investigation was conducted as a result of this case and now it’s completed. Pace is requesting the case file for the investigation’s results.
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