PHILADELPHIA – A Philadelphia man claims he was falsely arrested and imprisoned after he challenged the amount of change he received from a Dollar General store cashier, and the cashier used a racial epithet against him before calling the police and instigating the false arrest.

On March 28, Donald Braswell of Philadelphia filed suit in the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas versus Melody Wollard and Dollar General, both of Bensalem, and Dollar General Corporation of Goodlettsville, Tenn.

On Feb. 21, 2017, Braswell says he was shopping at the Dollar General store on Street Road in Bensalem and after picking up a bag of cat food, went to the cashier, defendant Wollard, and gave her a $20 bill to pay for the cat food. The bag of cat food cost $6.99 and thus, Braswell states he was due change of $13.01.

However, Braswell says Wollard gave him $3.01 worth of change, instead of the correct amount of $13.01, that he noticed the error when walking out of the store, then walked back to Wollard to explain the error.

In response, Wollard claimed Braswell only handed her a $10 bill instead of the $20 bill he had actually given her, but the plaintiff believes Wollard knew she was given a $20 bill and deliberately shorted Braswell on the change.

Wollard eventually agreed to go to the store’s office to check the surveillance video of the purchase and after doing so, again claimed Braswell had only given her a $10 bill, even though the video showed Braswell handed Wollard a $20 bill.

At that point, Braswell called the police and asked Wollard if he could view the video himself. Upon doing so, Braswell says he noticed the money he gave Wollard was in fact a $20 bill and remarked to the cashier, “You don’t see that?”

The suit says Wollard held the $10 bill change due to Braswell, an African-American, in her hand and used a racial epithet, allegedly stating, “N–er, I’m not giving you back nothing”, at which time Braswell took his $10 bill change and the cat food he bought, and walked out of the store.

After leaving Dollar General, Wollard called the police and is said to have falsely claimed Braswell had robbed her and took $10 that belonged to the store from the cash register, even though neither of those facts were true. As a result, Braswell was arrested and charged with robbery and theft.

Due to the false arrest, Braswell was unable to make bail and was incarcerated for four and a half months, losing a job he was about to obtain with Greyhound Bus Company and lost his Cadillac Escalade, because of missing five payments on the vehicle while in custody.

“Based on information received, plaintiff believes and therefore avers that defendants – Melody Wollard – had a history of shortchanging customers and, consequently, believes and avers that the shortchanging of plaintiff by defendant was intentional. The above-described actions of defendants constitute false arrest, false imprisonment, malicious prosecution and defamation. On June 23, 2017, the District Attorney – having reviewed the evidence and the video of the incident – withdrew all charges against plaintiff,” the suit says.

The plaintiff is seeking compensatory and punitive damages, jointly and severally, in an amount in excess of $50,000, plus all reasonable costs and fees the Court may permit.

The plaintiff is represented by Martin Stanshine of Stanshine & Sigal, in Philadelphia.

Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas case 180303384

From the Pennsylvania Record: Reach Courts Reporter Nicholas Malfitano at nickpennrecord@gmail.com

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