FLORENCE, S.C. (WBTW) — A Florence County woman is suing the city of Florence and its police department claiming that she was wrongfully arrested for shoplifting at a Walmart store in August 2022.
Lawyers for Courtney Williams filed the suit on Monday in Florence County Common Pleas Court. She is represented by Pendavris Law LLC.
The lawsuit stems from Williams’ arrest by Florence police on Nov. 22, 2022, after an investigation into a shoplifting incident reported on Aug. 29, 2022. The lawsuit said Williams was identified as a suspect after police met with Walmart employees and reviewed surveillance video.
“Ms. Williams was not anywhere near the Walmart store where the alleged shoplifting occurred,” her lawyers said in a news release. “Despite her complete absence from the scene, Walmart employees, through a grave error, mistakenly identified her as the shoplifter and reported her to the authorities.”
The lawsuit alleges negligence, civil assault and false arrest and seeks compensation for emotional distress, damage to Williams’ reputation and financial losses incurred as a result of her arrest. She was also fired from her job because of her arrest, the lawsuit said.
“It wasn’t until a thorough investigation and surveillance footage review that it was conclusively proven that Ms. Williams had been wrongfully accused,” her lawyers said. “The charges against her were swiftly dismissed, but the damage had already been done.”
The lawsuit claims the city and the police department hired unqualified officers and failed to adequately train and supervise them. It also described the defendants’ conduct as “negligent, reckless and unlawful.”
The lawsuit also alleges that police arrested Williams without having probable cause and that her arrest was “undertaken intentionally with malice, willfulness and reckless indifference.”
Attorney Marvin Pendarvis said the case points to the importance of treating people “fairly and justly.”
“No one should have to suffer the consequences of a wrongful arrest, and we will vigorously pursue justice on behalf of Ms. Williams,” he said.
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Dennis Bright is a digital producer at News13. Dennis is a West Virginia native and graduate of Marshall University. He has won copyediting and journalism awards in West Virginia and Ohio. Follow Dennis on Twitter and read more of his work here.