Bloody Black-Friday Arrest at Buckeye Walmart to be Investigated by AZ Department of Public Safety

The Arizona Department of Public Safety will conduct an independent investigation of the bloody Black-Friday arrest of a Walmart shopper.

Jerald Newman, 54, was knocked unconscious after a Buckeye police officer performed a "leg sweep" on him while arresting him on suspicion of shoplifting. (UPDATE: The officer's name has been released: Kevin Rorke.)

The story of the Black Friday arrest (which actually occurred late Thursday night) went viral, boosted by a graphic video shot just after the take-down of the limp and bloody suspect.

Newman's family contends the suspect, who was later booked into jail on suspicion of shoplifting and resisting arrest, had merely tucked a video game in his waistband to either help his grandson or prevent an unruly mob from taking the game from him.

Whether or not Newman was resisting arrest has become a major question in the case. A CNN reporter who happened to be at the store on Thursday says Newman wasn't resisting as a cop led him away.

Buckeye police, as we reported on Friday, insist that Newman had tried to conceal the game under his shirt and had yelled "I'm not going to jail!" during a "tug-of-war" with the officer.

Buckeye Assistant Police Chief Larry Hall told us on Friday that the store surveillance tape should provide good evidence.

We agree -- and that's why we're suspicious that the tape hasn't been released yet. The public would likely have seen that tape by now, if Buckeye PD had it, and if it showed that the officer was justified in using force. We sent a message this morning to Hall asking about that, but he didn't answer the question.

Hall did say, however, that Buckeye PD asked DPS to conduct an independent review of the incident.

DPS spokesman Bart Graves then confirmed that DPS will investigate the criminal aspects of the case, including whether the officer was justified in knocking Newman to the ground, but that Buckeye PD will conduct its own internal investigation to determine whether the officer violated any department policies.

A Walmart representative said someone from the company might call us back today. We're curious whether the store security guard who suspected Newman of shoplifting saw what preceded the violent leg-sweep maneuver. We also asked whether the surveillance video has been released to police.

Check back for updates.

KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.