Buckeye PD released its version of a shoplifting suspect's bloody take-down during last night's Black Friday event at a Walmart, saying the guy brought on his injuries himself.
Jerald Allen Newman, 54, was arrested following a chaotic scene at the store in which a video-game display was destroyed by a mob of shoppers. Video shot by onlookers shows the moments after Newman hit the floor, as cops lifted the unconscious man's head from a pool of blood.
Yet Newman wouldn't have ended up on the ground if only he had handled his arrest differently, says Buckeye Assistant Police Chief Larry Hall.
"He's responsible," Hall says.
Hall does admit the department made a mistake -- by not getting its side of the story out early enough.
"We're taking heat," he says.
The west Valley tale of mayhem became a notable part of the mix of other weird and violent incidents around the nation linked to this year's Black Friday.
Proving Hall's point about the public-relations faux-pas, Hall doesn't return our morning phone call until late afternoon.
But he does eventually call back to answer questions, and he released the police report (see below). It's worth a look if you're interested in this case --especially pages 22 to 25.
It's not just a police use-of-force issue that's fascinating here, it's the horrendous behavior of some members of the crowd who showed up to the Walmart last night for a special on video games.
About 100 to 200 people arrived at the store, located at 1060 South Watson Road, as early as 7 p.m. for the 10 p.m. release of the game (the report doesn't say which game it was). As the big moment grew closer, authorities felt that not all of them were being orderly:
The crowd was only moderately cooperative and required frequent directives to back away... Many ignored store employee and law enforcement directives to form an orderly line to prevent injury and chaos at (10 o'clock) when the games were made available.
At about three minutes to 10, "without warning or direction from Walmart employees, the crowd rushed the game stand," the report states. The officer writing that part of the report says he was pushed aside by the noisy crowd and tried to help a man who had been knocked down.
Another officer wrote that he saw the crowd "rush in and attack the cardboard displays with video games flying through the air and the cardboard displays being thrown around..."
The chaos left little kids crying and adults stunned at what they saw.
A 15-year-old boy later told cops that he'd managed to grab three of the games, but "older boys with tattooed faces took them from him."
The teen also said he saw Newman tuck a video game under his shirt.
So did a Walmart security guard who nabbed Newman and walked him over to a police officer.
Hall says none of the officers' names are being released yet, pending the investigation.
As Hall tells it, the Buckeye cop lifted up Newman's shirt and "sure enough, the game is in his waistband."
Under Arizona law, concealment can be used as a basis for arrest -- officers aren't required to wait for a suspect to leave the store, Hall explains.
The officer slapped a cuff on Newman's left hand. Newman yelled "I'm not going to jail!" says Hall.
A tug-of-war ensued.
"He was flailing his arms around, and he attempted to kick the officer," Hall says.
The officer and suspect moved several yards toward the store's north entrance, so the officer used a leg sweep to take the man down.
We're not sure if this is supposed to happen in a leg sweep, but the suspect's head struck the concrete floor violently, knocking Newman out.
Officers at the scene, and then emergency personnel, can be seen in the video tending to the man -- as some members of the crowd berate them for alleged excessive use of force.
Newman was booked into county jail; police are seeking charges of shoplifting and resisting arrest.
As mentioned in our earlier blog post today, at least one witness reported that the suspect stuffed the game in his pants only to help his young grandson, who had been knocked over in the chaos and reportedly suffering a cut lip.
Police did find the boy, who was about 8 or 9 years old. Newman had come to the store with his grandson and wife. But cops say the evidence points to a less innocent explanation than the one given by witnesses.
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Surveillance video from inside the store might provide more clues as to what preceded the take-down. Hall says it should be released soon.
Click here to see the police report.
Below: A Youtube video posted by CopWatchNews: