ATLANTA — The wife of a shoplifting suspect who died after he was wrestled to the ground outside a Walmart said Tuesday store employees used too much force to subdue him.
Vidal Calloway died Sunday after he was taken down in the parking lot of a suburban Atlanta store and put into a choke hold by a security guard as employees held him down and waited on authorities to arrive, according to a police report. Calloway, an ex-convict, was accused of stealing two Blue Ray DVD players.
“I don’t think that it should’ve happened,” Calloway’s wife Fatimah Calloway said. “He didn’t deserve to die over a DVD player.”
About 1:30 a.m. Sunday, a store manager asked Calloway for a receipt near the door and he ran out of the store, according to the police report. The manager, Michael Burton, grabbed Calloway and slammed him down to the ground, but Calloway fought back, punching Burton in the face, neck and chest, according to the police report. The security guard, Jaiviere Pruitt, rushed Calloway and the three men fell to the ground. Pruitt put Calloway into a headlock because he was still fighting.
He “told the suspect to tap when he can’t breathe,” store employee Phille Roberts, who also helped hold Calloway down, told police.
Emergency medics tried to treat Calloway, but he was unresponsive. He was later pronounced dead at a hospital. Detectives were awaiting autopsy results to determine exactly how Calloway died.
Burton and Roberts have been suspended with pay and Pruitt, a contractor working security with the store, will no longer work there, according to Bentonville, Ark.,-based Wal-Mart Inc.
“Associates are trained to disengage from situations that would put themselves or others at risk,” Wal-Mart Inc. spokeswoman Dianna Gee said. “That being said, this is still an active investigation and we’re working with police to provide any assistance.”
Calloway had a criminal record that includes shoplifting, forgery and substance abuse.