An alleged shoplifter died Sunday while being apprehended by employees outside a Walmart store in an Atlanta suburb.
Two store workers who helped catch and subdue the suspect before police arrived were placed on leave. A security officer who police say may have put the suspected thief in a chokehold is no longer employed by Walmart.
Police said the unidentified man took two DVD players from the Walmart in suburban Lithonia around 1:30 a.m. The man, who appeared to be middle-aged, left the store through the front door, but was caught by the employees in the parking lot, where a "physical altercation" took place, according to the police report.
When police arrived, they found the employees on top of the man. An officer who handcuffed the man detected no resistance from him and ordered the employees off. The man was unresponsive and bleeding from his nose and mouth. He was taken to a hospital where he was pronounced dead.
The preliminary investigation indicated that the victim was placed in a chokehold by the security officer. The cause and manner of death is to be determined by the DeKalb County medical examiner’s office.
"No amount of merchandise is worth someone’s life," Wal-Mart spokeswoman Dianna Gee said Sunday in a written statement. "Associates are trained to disengage from situations that would put themselves or others at risk."