On June 30, 2003, Reshenda Strickland, 24, was arrested on charges of theft and assault for allegedly pushing Dawn Porter, a loss prevention officer at a T.J. Maxx store in Vancouver, Washington.
Porter told police that she recognized Strickland because she had made several large returns of merchandise without a store receipt.
Strickland, who is African American, was charged with shoplifting baby shoes and other items on March 21, 2003.
She was convicted on February 13, 2004 following a trial during which the all-white jury watched the store’s surveillance tape of the day of the theft. Kathy Hanna, the store manager and Porter testified they were 100 percent sure that Strickland had committed the thefts.
Clark County District Court Judge Vern Schreiber, citing Strickland’s record of previous theft convictions, sentenced her to six months in jail.
After the conviction, City Prosecutor Josephine Townsend reviewed the surveillance video at the request of an attorney for the NACCP, who was hired after the trial.
On May 19, 2004, the charges were dismissed and Strickland was released after Townsend viewed the surveillance tape and determined that theft was committed by Strickland’s 21-year-old sister, Starlisha Strickland.
Townsend said that Reshenda Strickland had a mole above the right side of her mouth, while her sister did not. No mole was present on the face of the woman on the videotape.
Starlisha Strickland appeared in court the same day, admitted that she had committed the theft and was taken into custody.
– Maurice Possley