Viral video: Riverside County man racially profiled, falsely accused of stealing phone

A man in Riverside County says he was racially profiled and was accused of stealing a boy’s cellphone; the confrontation was all caught on video

Ja'shar Bryant says he was at a Moreno Valley Walmart shopping for curtains when he overheard a woman asking her son where his phone was.

Bryant said he continued to shop but started noticing the woman was following him through the store. Bryant felt uncomfortable and soon left Walmart, however he says the woman followed him outside. She ran towards him and yelled "give me the phone, give me the phone." 

He told the woman he had no idea what she was talking about, but the woman continued to accuse him of stealing her son’s phone. 

Bryant recorded the encounter and posted the video online

In the video, you can hear Bryant say, "I know I’m Black with tattoos so she automatically assumes I have it, cause the location says it’s me but I don’t have her son’s phone but she followed me outside of Walmart here in Moreno Valley." 

He goes on to say, "I pull my phone out as well as my money and ID and tell her who I am and I do not steal and she continues. The only reason I’m not leaving is because I don’t have the phone, that’s why I’m not leaving."

In the video, the woman repeatedly says a GPS location pinged the phone in the parking lot, possibly near his car. 

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While still recording, the two head back into Walmart and talk to security and managers about the situation. A few minutes later, the woman’s son appears with his phone in hand. He apparently found it in their car. 

Towards the end of the video, after finding the phone, Bryant asks for her name but the upset woman ignored him and walked away without giving an apology. 

Bryant says he has been racially profiled in the past. 

The woman was wearing a shirt with the Kaiser Permanente logo on it. The family said in a statement that they do not want the woman to lose her job. "We don't want hurt to come to her family by no means. We honestly want the narrative out there so not just her but people need to be more kind. We will still be seeking for repercussions because no one should be allowed to do that to any one," the statement read in part. 

Kaiser Permanente sent a statement to FOX 11 saying, "We are actively investigating an allegation that one of our employees engaged in an act of racial profiling while the employee was off-site and off-duty. Kaiser Permanente takes the allegation very seriously and is investigating the facts and circumstances surrounding the incident. The employee has been placed off work pending the outcome of the investigation. While we cannot disclose details of our internal investigation, we will continue to create and maintain safe spaces for all our patients, members, physicians, and employees, encouraging them to speak up and be engaged, and to fight against the divisions that can hurt and separate us from each other. Kaiser Permanente does not tolerate racism or discrimination. Additionally, equity, inclusion and diversity are inextricably linked to our mission and serve as a foundation upon which Kaiser Permanente was built."

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