Innocent Black women were thrown in jail – even after cops found no stolen items on them: lawsuit

Sisters Quashae and Quanae Brown were Christmas shopping in December of 2020 at a Philadelphia mall when they were detained by two officers who accused them of stealing a onesie from Old Navy that cost $6. After the officers searched the women's bag and found no stolen items, the women were allegedly arrested and jailed anyway, The Patriot-News reports.

"The women said they were held in cells several hours before Derry Township police sent them home without filing charges," The Patriot News reports. "This week, the women filed a lawsuit because they said they were harmed by the experience, which was based on an employee’s hunch that they were 'acting suspiciously.' The women 'committed no crime,' yet were detained without reasonable evidence, according to the lawsuit against the police department, five officers and The Gap. Inc."

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The women, who are Black, say in a lawsuit that they believe employees at The Gap and Old Navy racially profiled them. Their suit also accuses police of violating the women’s Fourth Amendment rights to a lawful search and seizure, as well as Fourteenth Amendment rights to equal protection of the laws.

Derry Township’s police chief Garth Warner said “the allegations against our officers and department are inaccurate, baseless, and without merit.”

But according to the sisters' attorney Richard Wiener, there wasn't sufficient evidence to search and detain the women for hours in jail cells.

“There’s no other rational basis that I’m aware of at this point that would have led the store folks to suspect and accuse these girls of shoplifting, then for the Derry Township police to keep running with that ball,” Wiener said.

"Four Derry Township police officers and one detective were sent to the outlets that day after an Old Navy employee called 911 and said the trio was stealing from Old Navy and The Gap. The Old Navy employee told police she’d received a tip from a Gap employee that the women were 'acting suspicious' and had 'stolen from them big time," reports The Patriot-News. "The Old Navy employee showed police the store’s video surveillance footage and pointed out each of the women. The lawsuit said there was no evidence in the surveillance footage of the women stealing from either store."

Read the full report over at The Patriot-News.

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