A Virginia man’s bizarre run-in with CVS employees garnered a groundswell of online attention when he accused them of calling police after he asked store employees if they carried sliced cheese.
Ricky Berry told WRIC-TV in Richmond (which originally aired the story) that he and his roommate found themselves alone in the store before an officer arrived; later, the officer found the store staff hiding inside a locked room. However, Berry said he and his roommate were both asked to leave the premises.
He just told us that we need to leave premises or else we would be arrested for trespassing and that flipped the script on all of us. We had no idea what was going on.
CVS did not question WRIC and Berry’s account of events, but did tell us that Berry’s ethnicity (he is black) was not a factor:
CVS Health has firm nondiscrimination policies that are rigorously enforced throughout the company. We do not tolerate any practices that discriminate against any of our customers, and profiling of customers is explicitly prohibited.
The local news coverage in the Richmond market failed to report that both employees working in the store that evening are African-American, and there is no indication that the race of the customers played a role in this incident.
It is not company policy to leave the sales floor unstaffed during operating hours and we are reinforcing the appropriate way for employees to respond to what they believe may be a security concern. We sincerely apologize to our customers for this misunderstanding. Our District Manager for the Richmond market also contacted Mr. Berry to apologize for this incident.
Store employees reportedly told Berry that they did not carry the cheese he was looking for. Richmond police told Snopes via email on 29 November that they did not create a report concerning the encounter since there was no criminal activity. But they did confirm that store employees were in an office at some point in a statement:
At approximately 11:40 p.m. on Tuesday, November 22, 2016, a Richmond Police Department Third Precinct officer responded to the CVS Pharmacy at 3514 W. Cary Street for the report of suspicious persons in the store. An officer arrived and attempted to find store employees. Employees were located in an office. They requested the officer ask several patrons to leave the store. As the store is not a public space but private property – the owner or property manager can ask police to remove those whom the manager believes are trespassing. The officer professionally, kindly and in a genial manner asked the patrons to leave, which they did without incident.