Accused shoplifter dies after Walmart security place him in choke hold

WSBTV-2, Georgia

Black Friday shopping weekend took a dark turn Sunday morning in Georgia: a man accused of shoplifting died after being tackled by a Walmart employee and a contract security officer. Police say the contract security worker "placed the suspected thief in a choke hold." The deceased reportedly stole two DVD players from the Walmart. Police found him "unresponsive and bleeding from his nose and mouth. The contract security worker is no longer working for Walmart.

More in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

A local TV news report is embedded below, and WSBTV-2 has more here.

Gawker has done the dirtywork of rounding up Black Friday insane arrest reports in the news.


  1. Probably tried to steal them because he was too embarrassed to tell people he actually bought a dvd player in 2012.  

  2. I guess it’s a good thing that the comments are down on , or else their coverage of this story would lead to me getting into a pointless argument with commenters who say things like, “It wouldn’t have happened if he didn’t shoplift. He got what he deserved!”

      1. While it was originally a Gawker blog and Nick Denton’s idea, it was sold 4 years ago to Consumer Reports.

  3. Yes, why would anyone want to own something when they could just rent it over and over instead.

    It has the surface appearance of economic progress, but actually it’s just restructuring the transaction so that a lot of people have a little less, and a few people have a lot more.  That’s concentration of wealth happening before your very eyes.

    1. Renting a DVD player is a little more complicated than renting the actual DVD.  But I’m guessing cost wise they’d both have about the same percentages of rents vs. outright cost.

  4. A younger version of myself was once interviewed for a security position at Target.  It paid $8 an hour and tackling shoplifters was something that was in policy to do, but only if you were properly trained to do so. There was a certification course you took, which I’m sure was hilariously brief, if you wanted to physically detain shop lifters. I didn’t take the job. 

  5. Has the “contract security contractor” been arrested? I guess we now know that at Walmart a few dollars worth of cheap, foreign made crap is worth a life.

    1. The sad part is these companies like Allied Barton will pretty much hire any monkey, give them a uniform and a few hours of training, and then send them to work at WalMart at minimum wage, no benefits, no union.  They’re mostly just folks who are desperate for a job and have no idea what they’re doing.  Their mere presence, in uniform, deters a lot of crime – but when something goes down, they have no idea how to react.

      And then WalMart gets to act all surprised when something bad happens.

      1. I’m fairly certain that Walmart’s contract with the security firms strictly limit their liability. 

        One Reddit poster mentioned that at an earlier and hungrier age, he’d interviewed for a “Security Position” at Walmart. The job paid $8/hr, with no benefits and no union protection. 

        The security candidates (mostly poor and all desperate for work) were informed that Walmart encouraged them to tackle or use force on suspected shoplifters. They could take a 2-3 hour class on their own time if they’d like some “training.” Hence, my guess about limited liability.

        I can easily imagine a scenario in which an $8/hr guy in a uniform tackles and injures a shopper. And then is hit with a civil suit. After he’s been fired. Trickle down, my friends! It ensures accountability and best practices… in the vulnerable, the poor and the powerless.

  6. For those not aware: you have blood vessels that put blood INTO your head and blood vessels that take blood OUT of your head. If you cut off inbound ones you’ll make ’em pass out fairly harmlessly. But if you shut down the outbound, the blood pressure in the head rises, blood vessels burst causing basically a bunch of strokes and the victim dies. And this happens VERY fast. Note this phrase from the article: “Police found him “unresponsive and bleeding from his nose and mouth.” Yeah. Now you know why.

    I have deliberately not named which blood vessels are which. You could look all this up – but trust me, even those trained to do this stuff can screw it up and kill somebody.

    Do not do a choke-hold unless you have good moral AND legal reasons to apply deadly force – because that’s what it is.

    1.  I know which blood vessels you are talking about. Even the Marines make the distinction in the MC-MAP training program and emphasize the artery chokes over other chokes. The old LINE program didn’t make this distinction.

      I used to work undercover loss prevention and was instructed never to use physical force unless attacked, and even then only sufficient physical force to break away from the attack. Small chain, so one lawsuit would have broken the company.

    2.  > “Police found him ‘unresponsive and bleeding from his nose and mouth’.” Yeah. Now you know why.

      Stop resisting!  Stop resisting!

    3. I’m not saying its a good idea to apply blood chokes on random people, but I have to quibble with your theory that cutting off the jugular vein (what I assume you’re referring to) is any more likely to cause a stroke than cutting off the carotid artery. And Google seems to agree with me. But I’ve been training Brazilian Jiu Jitsu for years, and blood chokes are one of the main things we go for, and have never once heard this mentioned.

      1. Maybe that’s because you release when your opponent taps. But on TV it’s called a “sleeper hold,” and you don’t release until they’re unconscious. And that’s all the training some security guards get.

        1. I didn’t mean to imply that blood chokes don’t put you unconscious… I’ve gone unconscious from them, and I’ve accidentally choked training partners into unconsciousness. It happens. I’m only disputing the concept brought up by Jim March that there’s any different effect when the blood choke is applied to the jugular vein as opposed to the carotid artery, and if that’s even possible to do.

  7. Choke holds aren’t for everyone. Anyone doing so must realize this can have severe implications, including death, regardless of what you see in MMA events. Folks at risk for anyurism or anyone with arterial plaque should never be placed in a blood choke. They can easily die outright.

  8. How could you walk out with two bulky things like that and think you wouldn’t get noticed? Thats somewhere in the neighborhood of sad and dumb. I doubt if the rent-a-cop is feeling too good either. Classic lose/lose situation.

    A humane organization would be reviewing policy and implementing changes immediately. I wonder what walmart will do differently if anything. I suppose they will make sure they have a good CYA tactic but beyond that???

    1.  WalMart will release a statement saying how “tragic” it was, fire the employee for breaking company rules. i.e. never to use physical force unless attacked, and even then only sufficient physical force to break away from the attack

      1. The corporate policy is just for plausible deniability.

        Associates are regularly pressured into working off the clock because they deliberately understaff (which also explains why register lines are so long) and are told to “help out” or lose their jobs.

        It would not be out of character for Walmart to have a written policy forbidding physical assault, while making it clear to security personnel that allowing a shoplifter to succeed would mean a guard’s job.

    1. You can bet they will.  This is like the lottery to some.  The sad part is the defense of the employee.  Geez, he killed someone and yet some people will try to make a point that it was the shoplifter’s fault for resisting.  Isn’t there something in the law that says we have an obligation to value a person’s life over property?

      1. Isn’t there something in the law that says we have an obligation to value a person’s life over property?

        IANAL, but that seems pretty unlikely, given the mass of historical evidence.

  9. I wouldn’t be surprised if Walmart’s defense is that they now sell oxygen.  This guy took several lung fulls without paying.  Crack security teams responded by trying to get the oxygen back.  All reasonable and correct.

  10. Walmart will produce a training video about how it’s in the company interest to disengage from a violent encounter. Then managers will make each employee watch it in the break room, on their own time, then sign a paper they watched the video. Corporate-wide washing of hands for all future litigation.

  11. They should’ve just sat on him.  It certainly was a tactic that worked for my older brother when we were kids.  Just don’t threaten to drool too.

  12. They’re still fighting a $7,000 OSHA fine for their promotions resulting in that trampling death of one of their employees.

  13. There where three Walmart employees involved.  I expect all three to be charged with manslaughter.  There will be a wrongful death civil suit against Walmart that will settle out of court for an undisclosed sum.   What will really upset me is if the prosecutor doesn’t prosecute.  I can’t believe those cops did not arrest the employees on the spot.

    We train security guards, where I work.  Most of the course is, you are a paid witness, dont get physical ever period.  Run from the fight…  They aren’t paying you enough to get physical with customers and run the risk of winding up behind bars.  And most importantly no company policy will protect you from being prosecuted for assault, kidnapping, holding someone against their will.  Then there is the dont believe the store manager when they tell you you can use brute force on someone.

Comments are closed.