Police in Lithonia, Dekalb County, Georgia, are looking into the death of a Walmart customer, suspected of shoplifting.
On Sunday, November 25, at 1:30 a.m. local time, he walked through the front door of the store, allegedly carrying with him 2 DVD players. He was followed into the parking lot by two attendants and a guard, and a confrontation followed.
According to the police report, a physical altercation with the middle aged man took place, culminating in the security guard keeping the client in a choke hold.
When police arrived at the scene, they were standing on top of him, and he was injured. The man, who was bleeding from his nose and mouth, wasn't moving at the time. He was immediately taken to DeKalb Medical-Hillandale Hospital, but doctors pronounced him dead.
The two employees of the superstore chain and the security officer, employed by a separate contractor, are being questioned over the incident.
A report by WSBTV identifies them as being Phille Roberts, Michael Burton and Jaiviere Pruitt. Dianna Gee, a spokeswoman for the Fairington Road Walmart, states that they have been suspended, and the store will not be using the services of the guard anymore.
“The two associates involved in the incident are currently suspended with pay pending the outcome of the investigation. The security officer involved will no longer be providing services to us,” she says.
“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,” Gee says.
“Our associates are trained that the safety of our customers and our associates is our first priority. No amount of merchandise is worth someone’s life. Associates are trained to disengage from situations that would put themselves or others at risk. [...] That being said, this is still an active investigation and we’re working with police to provide any assistance,” she adds.