The horrific video of loss prevention workers at a Washington store forcefully dragging and violently putting a 15-year-old girl suspected of stealing candy in a choke hold has gone viral on social media. It has also triggered outrage for what the girl went through and also inspired heated debate if the act was by the store employees is justifiable or not.
The graphic video was first posted on Facebook on July 8 where the young girl suspected of shoplifting candy from the store could be seen and heard pleading “Please stop “ as two store workers violently dragged her outside the store and into the parking lot of the Vancouver WinCo Foods store, while they also put her on choke hold.
The video also shows the young girl’s knees bleeding as a result of the violent dragging by the store workers.
Bystanders who witnessed the violent handling of the store employees could be heard shouting their protests at what’s being done to the young girl. Some even yelled expletives to the workers, while others admonished them to stop being rough to the young girl.
A woman recording the entire incident kept telling the loss prevention workers that they do not have the right to do what they are doing to the girl. She also kept asking if they have badges and kept reminding the guys they are not police officers. She told the guys that they should wait for the cops to investigate the matter, and should not be hurting the girl.
At one point, she even asked the guys if they would do that had they caught a 5-year-old instead. She said there should be no difference in handling a suspected shoplifter whether she’s 5 or 15 years old.
The woman recording the video also asked for the girl’s name, her age, if she is accompanied by anyone, and what she stole from the store while reassuring her that she had the incident recorded and would be posting it “ all over social media. “
One of the two men even brought out a handcuff and appeared ready to put it on the girl when he has questioned again if he has any right to do that by the woman recording the incident.
The girl was later dragged back to the store when the cops finally arrived, and the video ended.
The girl’s mother later interviewed by the local media said that WinCo employees need to undergo retraining in handling such shoplifting incidents especially those involving minors.
The mother said: “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. There should be consequences for them, for treating a 14-year-old like that.”
The teenager was booked on the felony charge of second-degree robbery at the Clark County Juvenile Detention Center due to her alleged resistance to workers ‘attempts to prevent her from escaping. The two loss prevention agents claimed they sustained minor injuries. The arraignment would be on July 24.
In a statement, the store says the teenager concealed item and left the store without paying, and when apprehended by loss prevention agents who identified themselves, the store claims the teenager attacked the employees and tried to escape. The store further claims that said actions occurred before the footage that has since gone viral started.
Kristin Norton, the woman who shot the footage, and could be heard intervening for the girl in the video, uploaded the video to Facebook where it has garnered 12 million views. It triggered heated debates from some of the 77,000 comments alone posted by users arguing whether the actions of the employees were justifiable, or if it was a case of using excessive force.