Boston professor accused of shoplifting 20 bottles of cognac “because he is a black male” may sue

A University of Massachusetts-Boston professor said he felt ‘humiliated’ after police accused him of shoplifting cognac from a liquor store.

Boston Professor, Robert Johnson, btbRobert Johnson, the 66-year-old professor and chair of Africana Studies, bought a bottle of Hennessy from Blanchards Wines and Spirits last Wednesday, CBS reports.

The next day, officers were at his door, saying store employees believed he was the same man caught on a security camera taking bottles of cognac out of the store’s basement back in March.

The liquor store staff had taken down Johnson’s license plate and phoned police, who took him in for questioning.

There police showed him footage of a man Johnson said was much younger and bigger than him.

‘[The officer] showed me a picture and said “this is you on March 13,”‘ Johnson explained. ‘I said “this picture looks nothing like me.”‘

‘I think a black man coming in buying cognac, I think that’s what set them off,’ Johnson said.

According to Bay State Banner, Johnson said police changed their tone after asking if he worked, and released him soon after finding out he was a university professor.

Blanchards store manager Paul Myrer called the incident a ‘misunderstanding’ and said ‘it was definitely not racial profiling. He just looked like the guy’.

‘I got a call from the manager on duty,’ said Myrer. ‘He said he and a few other employees that were here when someone did break in, were pretty sure he was in the store.’

Neither police nor Blanchards agreed to release the footage, according to WBZ, though the police report from the March incident describes a black suspect in his late 40s with a mustache.

Johnson, who is also a lawyer, has filed a complaint with the city licensing board and says he’s contemplating suing on defamation or civil rights grounds.

‘You’re not doing anything wrong and then you get humiliated and you get accused of stealing something, I mean that hurts,’ Johnson said.

Source: The DailyMail

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