A video of loss prevention workers at a Washington store dragging and putting a 14 year-old girl in a choke hold has sparked outrage and debate.
The graphic video, posted to Facebook on July 8, captures the extreme physical measures two loss prevention workers went to in apprehending the young girl suspected of shoplifting candy.
“Please stop!” the teen can be heard crying in the video which began in the parking lot of the Vancouver WinCo Foods store.
One loss prevention agent grabbed the girl and placed her in a choke hold as the other agent, in red, kept back customers who were already expressing outrage for the way the situation was being handled.
A woman recording the scene asked the girl her name and pointed out to the men that the young girl’s knees were bleeding from their actions, while she reminded them that they were not police officers. Angry customers could be heard yelling expletives at the workers to stop being so rough with the suspect who was placed in a choke hold again as she was held by the two men near the door of the store.
She was then dragged in to the store again where police officers finally arrived as the video ended.
The girl’s mother, Jackie VanDuker, told KATU that the WinCo employees need to be re-trained.
“It was all wrong. She did steal and that’s wrong, she needs to be held accountable for that candy bar, but the way they handled it was all wrong,” the mother said. “There should be consequences for them, for treating a 14-year-old like that.”
The teen was booked on the felony charge of second-degree robbery at the Clark County Juvenile Detention Center, due to her alleged resistance to the workers’ attempts to keep her from fleeing, KTVB TV reported. The two loss prevention agents sustained minor injuries. The arraignment, originally scheduled for Wednesday, was moved to July 24.
“I just know how hard it is going to be with a felony, and over a candy bar? It’s stupid,” the teen’s mother said.
The store was still investigating the incident but released a statement to KTVB that read, in part:
While in our store, the individual concealed items and left the store without paying. The individual was then approached by WinCo Foods’ loss prevention employees, who identified themselves as such. As our employees questioned the individual, she attempted to flee and was detained by WinCo’s loss prevention. At this point, the individual initiated contact by physically attacking multiple employees. All of this occurred immediately before the footage started in the video posted on social media.
WinCo Foods immediately called the Vancouver Police Department, who responded quickly, and subsequently Vancouver Police Department arrested the individual for robbery. The video concludes with the officer arriving onsite.
Kristin Nerton, who witnessed the incident, uploaded the video to Facebook where it has gone viral, with over 12 million views.
The video sparked countless comments, over 77,000 on Facebook alone, as people debated whether the teen’s treatment was justified or whether she was treated with excessive force.
“What they did is right she’s a thief she needs to be arrested,” wrote one Facebook user.
“Take the candy from her and ban her from your store. If she does it again, call the police. But There is no need for this much restraint for something that costs so little. Wow,” wrote another.
“Never heard of loss prevention having that kind of power. As long as she was on tape. They should have just called the authorities,” one user suggested.
If she didn’t steal, she’d be fine. She is not a victim,” concluded another.
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