My question involves criminal law for the state of: New York
Recently, I was accused of shoplifting cleaning products from a local supermarket. The items were in a "No Plastic Please" cloth tote bag and were purchased the day before in my boyfriend's neighborhood since certain products are RARE to find in heavily ethnic neighborhoods (so no receipt). As I was walking out after purchasing bleach, a person in a uniform stopped me and asked to see my bags. I obliged since I saw no harm and no real theft.
A department manager claimed they saw me place the items in my cloth bag. I knew an employee's claim is suitable evidence for detention. I asked the person in uniform to be sequestered since all this questioning was held near the exit for customers, staff, vendors and passersby to see. There were fifteen minutes of requesting for privacy/detention, their refusal, being questioned on the items purchased, disputing with the accuser, staff employees telling me to "just give them your id and the stuff and they'll let you go." I continually asked for the cops and the uniformed person eventually called on their cell. Once the police arrived, they immediately said, "We need to do this in a private space." After the police refused the deli department as private, they took us to the loading dock section. After the police took both sides of the story, they saw there was little proof (no video, employee testimony) and who knows what else. They did not take my ID, no letter was signed, no charges pressed. I was asked to leave and they confiscated all my assumed shoplifted items. I have since spoken to both store managers, and the COO – they refuse to provide names of the accuser and the uniformed person and said I should have been arrested.
My question is:
1) Is detention a NY State mandatory after a suspect is initially questioned?
2) What can I do if corporate is unresponsive?
3) Controversial: Is it grounds for discrimination if this occurred in a non-ethnic (i.e. white) neighborhood and I am a person of color? Normally, I would say no but recycling cloth bags are VERY common for white people, not so much for black or latinos. Since the customer base for this supermarket is mostly white, a non-white entering the store with this bag could be seen as a shoplifting ploy.
Sorry for the long email and thanks in advance.