Venice man claims racial profiling in $3 million suit

Ann Knef Sep. 21, 2005, 4:07am

Seeking in excess of $3 million, a Venice man is accusing K Mart of racial profiling, false imprisonment and emotional distress, according to a lawsuit filed in St. Clair County Circuit Court on Sept. 9.

After purchasing two inflatable life rafts at the Fairview Heights K Mart store on Oct. 8, 2004, Aaron G. Dabney, Sr. was confronted by the store's loss prevention manager, Eric Kent, at his car in the parking lot.

"When Dabney professed his innocence, Kent stated: 'You people always say you didn't steal anything'," the complaint states.

Dabney is represented by Steven E. Kellogg of the Kellogg Law Firm in Belleville.

His three-count suit seeks compensatory damages in excess of $150,000 and punitive and exemplary damages in excess of $3 million.

After he was detained by K Mart security, police arrived and determined that Dabney did in fact pay for the merchandise and allowed him to leave.

"In this case, Dabney was stopped because he was an African-American male and Kent failed to observe him paying for the merchandise," the complaint states.

"Because of Dabney's race, Kent assumed that Dabney was trying to steal the two rafts."

Dabney claims the "racial profiling techniques" employed by K Mart are "extreme and outrageous."

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