Dillard's Under Scrutiny

Did Security Guards At Dillard's Dept. Stores Use Racial Profiling And Excessive Force?

Ed Bradley reports on evidence that security officers employed by Dillard's, one of America's biggest department-store chains, have engaged in racial profiling and have used excessive force. Bradley's report focuses on Dillard's use of off-duty police as security officers, some of whom were involved in interactions that resulted in the deaths of five people, four of whom were minorities.

Darryl Robinson, a black man, died in 1994 during an altercation with Dillard's security guards and Houston police in which he was hogtied and a mask was placed on his face. The original autopsy report gave the cause of death as a heart attack, but 60 Minutes found that a new medical examiner had re-evaluated the autopsy specimens and changed the cause of death to asphyxiation. But nobody ever told this to Robinson’s widow, Denise. Denise Robinson will go to trial against Dillard's on April 6.

In 1997, Eli Montesinos, a Hispanic, died after a security guard in a San Antonio, Texas, Dillard's put him in a choke hold in front of his wife and three daughters. Dillard's maintains that the guard involved, an off-duty police officer, was just doing his job. A grand jury agreed and pressed no charges, but Dillard's settled a lawsuit brought by Montesino's widow, Susana, for more than a $1 million after 11 witnesses supported her version of events.

Dillard's executives would not go on camera, but said in a letter that its stores have an excellent record with just a handful of complaints from millions of customers.

In addition, two former Dillard's security guards tell Bradley that the staff at the Overland Park, Kan., store where they worked pushed them to be aggressive toward minority customers. Dillard's says it now has a video training tape discouraging racial profiling that it shows to employees.



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