HOUSTON -- A college student’s trip to Wal-Mart last month ended with her in handcuffs and a two-day stay in the Harris County jail.Lawsuit anyone?
Nitra Gipson was charged with felony forgery after the Meyer Park Wal-Mart manager accused her of passing bogus money orders. Thing is, the money orders were legit and had been purchased at Wal-Mart to begin with.
The cash-strapped college student had just sold her car to pay for her last two semesters at Texas Southern University, where she is studying criminal justice. She was paid with Wal-Mart money orders, which the giant retailer advertises as “good as cash.”
In Gipson’s case, they were as good as time behind bars.
“Humiliating is not the word for it,” said Gipson. “I was horrified. I think they singled me out because of the amount of money that it was and (thought) I was trying to get over on them.”
No manner of effort by Gipson to show that the money orders were legit worked. The store manager insisted she be charged.
The district attorney’s office saw it differently. Charges were dropped after the money orders were verified when Gipson provided the purchase receipts.
But after spending 48 hours behind bars, the damage had already beeen done.
“Wal-Mart should be held responsible and accountable for letting this child go to jail for two days. All because she was doing what any customer of Wal-Mart should do,” said community activist Quannel X.
Gipson said Wal-Mart then added insult to injury when she got a letter in the mail.
“I started to read it and thought, ‘Oh my God.’ They are asking me to pay them when it was clearly their mistake,” said Gipson.
The letter demanded Gipson pay Wal-Mart $200 to settle a shoplifting charge. It is a charge that never existed, though.
When 11 News contacted Wal-Mart officials they said they were looking into the case and would provide no further details.
The spokesperson did claim that the decision to pursue charges was up to the law enforcement officials on the scene. But the copy of the criminal complaint obtained by 11 News, shows that the store manager is who pressed charges.
crossposted at Rants from the Rookery