Four loss prevention employees at a Layton, Utah Walmart were fired for detaining an armed shoplifter who they saw with a $248.00 computer under his clothing. He was told to go to the loss prevention room by two workers. They were joined by two other employees in the room.
He reportedly told them that since they had their laptop back, he was going to leave. Employees said that he also told them that he had something else that he shouldn’t have.
The man who was being detained then reportedly drew a handgun from a holster and put it in a jacket pocket as he held it. The employees said he then told them that the gun was cocked, and told them he didn’t want to do this, so they should let him go. Two employees grabbed him when they saw the gun, took his gun, and held him against a wall. He was resisting the employees and the responding officer had to forcefully arrest him.
Loss prevention employees told officers that they didn’t really believe that the man wanted to hurt them because he never pointed the gun at them and didn’t hold it by the gun’s grip in a manner like he would if he wanted to shoot it. They also said that he was just resisting and simply trying to get away. However, the employees said that they were fearful of what would happen if he ran through the store with his gun. They also said that the police told them they did a good job.
But their reward next week from Walmart was a ticket to the unemployment line. They were fired for violating company policy that allows loss prevention workers to use reasonable force, but that force must stop if the subject shows a weapon. Then they must stop and back off. The store’s position was that the employees knew the policy, but their actions put themselves and customers at risk, and their firing was self inflicted. Other Walmart employees have reportedly been discharged for similar acts.
The accused shoplifter was a convicted felon and was barred from possessing a gun by law. He pled guilty to second degree felony robbery and felon in possession of a firearm.
The following is reportedly Walmart's policy as of 10/11/2010
PUT PEOPLE FIRST. Protecting the physical well—being of Suspects, customers, and Walmart Associates is your first priority. Only non-aggressive methods may be used when investigating Suspects.
To minimize the risk of physical injury to associates and customers:
Maintain a calm, confident, and professional demeanor.
If the Suspect is believed to possess a weapon, the Suspect must not be approached. If during an approach or investigation, it becomes apparent that the Suspect has a weapon or brandishes or threatens use of a weapon; all associates must disengage from the situation, withdraw to a safe-position, and contact law enforcement.
If at any point the Suspect or any other involved person becomes violent, disengage from the confrontation, withdraw to a safe position and contact law enforcement.
If at any point the Suspect or any other involved person exerts physical resistance, determine whether your next reasonable step is to disengage from the confrontation or move to an authorized detention method.
Associates may only defend themselves or others to the extent necessary to disengage the Suspect and withdraw from the situation. After disengaging, associates should contact law enforcement.
During the approach, maintain enough distance from the Suspect and any other involved parties to ensure your safety.
The use of any object or equipment to limit or control the movements of the Suspect or to block the Suspect from leaving the facility is not allowed.
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