Grosse Pointe store apologizes to Detroit attorney after calling police, accusing her of shoplifting

GROSSE POINTE, Mich. (WXYZ) - It seems the head of the Civil Rights and Ethics Division for the City of Detroit may have been the victim of racial profiling in Grosse Pointe Sunday.

Portia Roberson, who has worked for the U.S. Department of Justice and as an assistant Wayne County prosecutor, was stopped by police Sunday afternoon as she was exiting a fitting room in Talbots on Kercheval Avenue.

Roberson wrote about the incident on her Facebook page, indicating it left her "embarrassed" and "shaking."

Roberson was not available for comment Monday, but Grosse Pointe Park Police Chief David Hiller confirms that his officers, responding as part of a mutual aid agreement, were called to Talbots to investigate a potential shoplifter.

Roberson visited the store Sunday afternoon to return two items she purchased online, and reportedly told a salesperson that she had the items in her bag and was going to look around first.

In her Facebook poster Roberson wrote she tried on some pants and:

When I exit the fitting room, I'm confronted by two GP police officers who ask to search my bag and ask me if I have any merchandise in the bag. I tell them to go ahead and search and point out the items and the receipt. He (the officer) tells me it is clear that someone made a mistake and then takes my bag to the store manager to point out that everything that I have in my possession, I have purchased.

Roberson went on to say in the Facebook post, "The manager's explanation was that she had asked the police to do a walk around the store because it was so busy (four customers, including me) however I pointed out to her that after searching me, they left without searching anyone else."

Roberson told her friends online that what disturbed her so much about the situation is that if it could happen to her, it could happen to anyone who might not know how to handle the situation or report it to the store's corporate headquarters.

7 Action News contacted Talbots and a spokesperson released the following statement:

We take the claims made by Ms. Roberson very seriously and we are currently investigating all aspects of the incident.  We acknowledge that the police should not have been called and acknowledge that Ms. Roberson’s personal belongings should not have been searched.   This action was contrary to Talbots policies and practices and was an isolated incident that does not reflect the Talbots culture.  All customers are welcome in our stores. Our CEO has reached out directly to Ms. Roberson regarding the incident.  As stated within the corporate responsibility section on our website-- Talbots is committed to operating under the highest ethical standards and we take pride in the way we conduct business.

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