Oregon man was falsely accused by Target employee of having child porn. Soon after, he died.

Jeffrey Buckmeyer was accused by a Target employee in Tigard, Oregon, of having child pornography on his cell phone. His family is suing the retail giant.
Image: Target
A shopping cart sits in the parking lot of a Target store in Marlborough, Mass., on June 3, 2019.Bill Sikes / AP file

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By Kalhan Rosenblatt

The estate of an Oregon man who was wrongly accused by a Target employee of possessing child pornography is suing the retail giant for $1 million, claiming negligence, false arrest and intentional infliction of emotional distress, according to a complaint.

Jeffrey Buckmeyer was accused by an employee at a Target store in Tigard, Oregon, in July 2018 of having child-abuse or child-pornography materials on his mobile phone, the complaint filed in Oregon Circuit Court on Aug. 29 says.

The accusation sparked an FBI investigation. Several months later, Buckmeyer died of a heart attack, the complaint says.

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Buckmeyer had asked an electronics department employee for help freeing up storage space on his iPhone, which is when the unidentified employee then claimed he saw the explicit images, according to the The Oregonian. The employee alerted security personnel, who took down Buckmeyer's license plate number, the Oregonian reported.

A Target employee then made a detailed report to law enforcement claiming that they had seen the images on Buckmeyer's phone. The two employees involved are listed in the complaint as "John Doe #1" and "John Doe #2."

“We’re aware of the claims and are looking into them with our legal team,” Target said in a statement emailed to NBC News.

A month later, in August 2018, Buckmeyer was detained and questioned by law enforcement officers and the FBI seized several electronic devices from his home.

While he was investigated, Buckmeyer's neighbors were made aware of the allegations against him and his ability to spend time with his daughter was reduced, according to the complaint.

But a review by the FBI and an independent forensics expert determined that Buckmeyer never had any child pornography on any of his electronic devices, which were later returned to him.

"Target’s false report wasted FBI time and resources that could have been used to pursue real criminals. We hope this lawsuit will create a change in Target's corporate policies so this doesn't happen again to another innocent victim," Michael Fuller, lead trial attorney for the Buckmeyer estate, told NBC News via email.

Buckmeyer died in April, but his estate is asking for a jury trial in the case.