More details are coming to light to explain what happened at an Arizona Walmart Thursday night where some witnesses claim police body-slammed a grandfather during an arrest. Buckeye Arizona Police have come under fire for a video of the incident that has since been posted online showing the grandfather on the floor of the store with a bloody face after police said he was subdued trying to shoplift during a chaotic rush for discounted video games.
The man, 54-year-old Jerald Allen Newman, is unconscious and covered in blood after a police officer took him to the ground:
Officers are shown later in the video trying to clean up blood as outraged customers yell expletives and say “that’s police brutality” and “he wasn’t doing anything.”
“Are you sure that was necessary for shoplifting?” said one shopper. “Why would you throw him down so hard?”
According to The Associated Press a police report that redacted the names of officers and witnesses says Newman’s wife and other witnesses said he was just trying to help his grandson after the boy was trampled by shoppers, and only put a video game in his waistband to free his hands to help the boy.
Larry Hall, assistant chief of Buckeye police, told The AP that Newman was resisting arrest and that it appeared the officer acted within reason. Hall said a Walmart employee alerted the officer involved that Newman had put a video game in his waistband, and that the officer approached Newman and started to arrest him.
When he had handcuffs on one of Newman’s wrists, Hall said Newman told the officer, “I’m not going to jail,” and started pulling away and flailing. Hall said Newman continued resisting and the officer decided to do a leg sweep and take him to the ground.
“Unfortunately, the suspect landed on his head,” Hall told AP.
However, a CNN reporter who happened to be in the crowd Thursday says Newman “was not resisting” arrest as he was led away from the crowd by a police officer:
“That officer, Chadd said, then suddenly hooked the suspect around the leg, grabbed him and ‘slammed him face first into the ground.’
‘It was like a bowling ball hitting the ground, that’s how bad it was,’ he said.”
The report said that Newman’s grandson was treated and released for his injuries by firefighters at the scene.
The Buckeye Police department is conducting an administrative review to assess the officer’s use of force, but claim it appeared to be justified.
“The officer didn’t lift the guy over his head and slam him to the ground,” Hall said, which refutes claims made by witnesses at the scene. “He used a minimum amount of force, the suspect resisted arrest, and the officer actually could have escalated his use of force. But he didn’t. He used his hands to take the suspect into custody.”
To show transparency, Hall told CNN Saturday that the department may have an independent agency conduct their investigation to assess whether the actions of the police officer involved in the arrest were “within reason,” based on “our policy and also the law.” He said that probe would happen soon, adding it was “days away.”
Newman took an ambulance to the hospital following the arrest where he got four stitches for a cut on the left side of his forehead. Hall told the AP that Newman’s nose was also bloodied but not broken.
Newman was booked into the Maricopa County jail on suspicion of shoplifting and resisting arrest.
The police report describes the chaotic scene around the discounted video game stand at the Walmart as customers were made to wait until a 10 p.m. release.
“I observed the crowd rush in and attack the cardboard displays with video games flying through the air and the cardboard displays being thrown around and broken completely down flat on the ground,” one officer wrote in the report about 200 people that surrounded the stand despite officers warning them to stay back..
AP reports that one officer described seeing a man get trampled and helping him to safety, while another officer saw a woman walking away from the stand with a young girl who was crying and holding her mouth in pain.
Police found Newman’s 8- or 9-year-old grandson crying after the incident and turned him over to his grandmother, who police described as hysterical.
“The wife was so upset and told me Jerald was just trying to protect his grandson that got trampled in the crowd and just placed a video game under his shirt while grabbing his grandson to get out of the crowd,” wrote one officer.
“Never go there on Black Friday, because if you go, you will get hurt,” Newman’s grandson said about Walmart two days later.
Newman’s wife told CNN Saturday that her husband is “as good as expected … but he is emotionally and mentally a wreck.”