Alleged Walmart Shoplifter Died After Being Tackled By Workers, Police Say
This was a relatively calm Black Friday for Walmart, in terms of bodily injuries -- just an alleged gunfight over a parking space, and a drunk driver. But the worst incident reportedly occurred two days later, in the early hours of the morning, when Walmart workers tackled a shoplifting suspect who then died.
At 1:30 a.m. on Sunday a middle-aged man allegedly tried to steal two DVD players from a Walmart in Lithonia, Ga., according to a police report obtained by ABC affiliate WSB-TV in Atlanta. Three employees at the store restrained the man in the parking lot, and when the police arrived they found him unresponsive and bleeding from the nose and mouth. He was pronounced dead at the DeKalb Medical-Hillandale Hospital.
"This is truly a sad situation. We don't know all of the facts right now. We're in the process of working with law enforcement to determine all of the facts and cooperating and providing any information we have to assist in the investigation," Walmart spokeswoman Dianna Gee said in a statement.
"No amount of merchandise is worth someone's life," she added.
According to the police report: A security guard at the Walmart ran after the alleged shoplifter and grabbed him by the hood of his sweatshirt. The other workers followed, pushed the man into a car, and restrained him by his hands and feet. The guard, who put the suspect in a chokehold, purportedly told the man to tap when he couldn't breathe.
The report states that when the police arrived on the scene they found the men on top of the suspect and when a policeman handcuffed the man, he noticed that there was no resistance.
The security guard who police suspect put the thief in a chokehold is no longer employed at Walmart, reports The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The two other workers involved were suspended by the store with pay pending the outcome of the investigation.
Walmart loses billions of dollars a year due to shoplifting -- but the majority is believed stolen by its employees.
Last year at a Walmart in Southern California, a man bludgeoned a 74-year-old shopper to death in what the police called an unprovoked attack. And a 2008 Black Friday stampede in a Long Island store trampled one employee to death and left a pregnant shopper hospitalized. But this appears to be the only death at a Walmart that possibly came at the hands of workers there.
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Claire Gordon has contributed to Slate's DoubleX, the Huffington Post, and the book Prisons: Current Controversies. While an undergraduate at Yale University and a research fellow at Yale graduate school, she spoke on panels at Yale and Cornell, and reported from Cairo, Tokyo, and Berlin.
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