Local man awarded $35,000 in false arrest lawsuit - KPTV - FOX 12

Local man awarded $35,000 in false arrest lawsuit

Posted: Updated: Feb 27, 2012 11:07 PM

The nation's largest drug store will be paying a North Portland man $35,000 after they falsely accused him of stealing and then strip-searched him in the middle of the store.

On Nov. 24, 2010, Henry Peth was shopping for Christmas lights at Walgreens.

After wandering down the electronics aisle, the store manager approached him and accused him of stealing batteries.

"I said I didn't have nothing.  It's my cell phone in my pocket," Peth told Fox 12. "The second guy came and said, 'No, he's lying. He put it in his sweatshirt.'"

Boxed in by three employees, Peth knew he was innocent but he was intimidated by the three employees who asked him to take off and shake out the sweater he was wearing.

"Then he pointed at me, 'What about the rest?' So I took it off and I'm standing there, half naked," said Peth.

Peth's attorney, Jason Kafoury, told Fox 12, "I think that the Walgreens employees, because he was from Africa and had a funny accent, they thought they could get away with it."

Peth is from a town in northwest Ghana, where is family is royalty. His uncles are kings in his hometown of Sampa, where honesty is highly valued and being a thief brings shame on the family.

During the three-day trial of the lawsuit that Peth filed against Walgreens, jurors saw surveillance video from the store, which Kafoury says proved his innocence.

"He at no point reaches over and grabs the batteries, which is what he is accused of doing in this false arrest case," said Kafoury.

Peth said it was important for him to take this case to court and prove his innocence in order to clear his name.

"It's not because of money. It's because of the justice. And then Walgreens, they need to treat everybody like themselves because we are all human beings," said Peth.

A spokesman from Walgreens says that the company is not issuing any statements regarding the case or its verdict.

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