What started out as a late night run for coffee and trail mix, resulted in “psychological turmoil” for one New Jersey woman.
On June 20, New Jersey educator Bernardine Rochelle was wrongfully accused of shoplifting at a Williamstown, NJ Wawa convenience store after an employee misidentified her for another suspect who was previously ejected from the store reports The Cherry Hill Courier-Post.
According to a statement from Rochelle’s attorney Karin Coger, the young, white Wawa associate said she recalled Rochelle’s “big afro” from a previous incident at the store, which prompted her to snatch “the trail mix out of Rochelle’s right hand” and demanding her to leave the store.
“The (Wawa) associate told Rochelle that she remembered Rochelle’s big afro from a prior occasion when she was stealing,” Coger said in the statement obtained by the Courier-Post on Wednesday. “Rochelle was frightened as the Wawa associate attempted to snatch the coffee out of her hand, as well.” Coger went on to add in the statement that the associate screamed at Rochelle, “I put you out last week and you’re back here again stealing … Get out!”
Coger’s statement also added that Rochelle was “embarrassed, surprised and insulted” by the incident and it, which led to her reporting the associate to a regional manager, who said an investigation would take place.
Despite the manager’s claims and Rochelle receiving a letter and a $100 gift card from Wawa several days later, Coger states “Rochelle did not receive a verbal or written apology and there was no indication that management investigated the incident.”
On Thursday, Wawa spokeswoman Lori Bruce issued a formal apology to Rochelle via the Courier-Post.
“We are very sorry for the experience Ms. Rochelle had,” said Bruce. “Our goal is always to provide a welcoming, positive experience for our customers. We take every opportunity to learn from every situation.”
Should Rochelle file a lawsuit against Wawa?