Detaining a shoplifter turned deadly outside an Atlanta-area Wal-Mart early Sunday morning, in a case that recalls a similar, yet not-fatal, assault by Wal-Mart loss prevention staff in 2010.
The deceased man, who appeared to be middle aged, exited through the front door of a Wal-Mart in Lithonia, Georgia with two DVD players that the employees say were stolen. Two Wal-Mart employees as well as a contracted security officer stopped the shoplifting suspect in the parking lot, where a “physical altercation” took place, which included the security officer placing the suspect in a choke-hold, reports the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
When police arrived, the three Wal-Mart workers were still sitting on top of the motionless suspect. Police quickly realized that the man was unresponsive and bleeding from the nose and mouth. An ambulance transported the man to DMC-Hillandale Hospital, where he was pronounced dead. The medical examiner has not yet released cause of death.
Here’s the local news clip:
In response, Wal-Mart has placed the two store employees, who could be charged with assault or manslaughter, on paid leave. The security officer has been let go.
Walmart spokesperson Dianna Gee said in a statement that “associates are trained to disengage from situations that would put themselves or others at risk.”
However, a 2010 incident at a Wal-Mart in Humble, Hawaii tells another story. A man suspected of shoplifting two bottles of motor oil survived his attack by Wal-Mart loss prevention, but suffered a broken shoulder and torn rotator cuff in the process.
Michael Baillio is in the process of suing the Wal-Mart where he sustained the injuries.
A Wal-Mart spokesperson claimed Baillio was “verbally and physically aggressive” and indicated that Baillio’s “uncooperative” attitude caused the situation to escalate. However, you can see from the video below that Baillio was non-threatening and simply trying to leave the room when he was pulled down by the neck, violently thrown against a metal bench, wrestled to the ground, and then pinned to the floor, face-down, for 20 minutes until police arrived. After the Baillio leaves, the two “loss prevention specialists” grin and congratulate each other.
All this over two bottles of motor oil, which Baillio said he brought into the store to return.
Here’s the tape showing Baillio’s assault:
Contrary to their careful public statements, Wal-Mart seems to have a history of shirking corporate and individual responsibility in theft-prevention-related assaults. Baillio’s attorney commented about Wal-Mart’s stance in his client’s case:
They think that what this [attacker] did was right. They think that the violation of their policies and procedures is no big deal.
It will be interesting to see if Wal-Mart releases the security video showing the three employees using deadly force to subdue the suspected shoplifter this past weekend. Heaven knows the company has every inch of their property within the sight of its ever vigilant “loss prevention” cameras.
For a case in point, watch the man on this video count 26 security cameras on the exterior of his local Wal-Mart:
For more recent coverage of Wal-Mart, read: