Couple: False shoplifting accusations by police and local business hurt

MOUNT PLEASANT, SC (WCSC) - Javetta and Timothy Campbell remember shopping at Ulta Beauty in Mount Pleasant on June 2.

However, they were floored when Mount Pleasant Police released their pictures to the media as shoplifting suspects.  A news release showed five pictures, four African-American women and one African-American man, and asked for the public's help in identifying the people suspected of shoplifting more than $500 worth of merchandise from Ulta Beauty.

Javetta Campbell was traumatized by the news.

"An investigation should have been done before our pictures were plastered over news media, over Facebook," she said. "Review the surveillance to see that we took nothing before you plaster our faces."

"We have no reason to steal," Timothy said. "We work hard for our money. We're pillars in the community."

Javetta says she was shopping for makeup but believes it was her racial make-up that led to her being labeled a suspect.

"As I'm in the store I don't see a lot of people who look like me," she said. "You see three other people, you put us all in a group together. That we were all the bad guys."

Attorneys Myesha Brown and Margie Pizarro are representing the Campbells. Brown feels the beauty store employees acted inappropriately.

"I feel they did not do any due diligence which should be required whenever you accuse someone of a particular crime," Brown said. "That's necessary."

Pizarro agrees.

"When people's reputations and again, lives and employment, is placed in jeopardy over allegations, we need to find a way to address this," she said.

Javetta Campbell is a national gospel recording artist. Her husband, Tim, is a well-known musician who also works for the City of North Charleston. He was told not to come back to work before the situation was cleared.  Word quickly got around on social media and the couple's reputation took a hit.

Javetta recalls a particularly hurtful post.

"One of the posts said, 'Church people stealing out of Ulta. All is not well with my soul.' And that one really hurt me because a lot of people know me for singing a song called, 'It is well; all is well,'" she says.

She is concerned that these false accusations could affect her ministry.

"Who's to say that churches will invite me back to minister? Even though we're innocent the damage is done," she says.

Mount Pleasant Police issued a second release that removed the Campbells' pictures as shoplifting suspects. However, the Campbells want to see more done.

"We need an apology," Javetta says. "We want our names called. We want an apology from law enforcement. We need an apology. Can we at least get that?"

Mount Pleasant Police did not immediately respond to a request for a comment on the story. The manager of Ulta Beauty said any comment would come from her lawyer. She refused to give her name and declined to give the name of her attorney.

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