WATCH ABOVE: One man has been charged and police are investigating after a violent takedown outside a west Edmonton Walmart. Vinesh Pratap reports. WARNING: graphic content.
EDMONTON – A violent takedown of an alleged shoplifter by two Walmart loss prevention officers in Edmonton that was caught on video and posted online has led to two separate investigations.
The video was posted on September 1 on the website Live Leak by user OPD21.
It shows the two loss prevention officers struggling with a suspect who allegedly pulls a knife as they try to take him into custody. One of the loss prevention officers can be heard telling the suspect repeatedly not to resist arrest. The video shows the suspect being wrestled to the pavement and subdued with punches. There appears to be blood on the suspect’s head and ground. At one point, the video appears to show a knife on the ground.
WATCH: Video of the takedown posted on Live Leak by user OPD21. Warning: the content may be disturbing to some.
Edmonton police confirm they were called to an alleged theft in west Edmonton, near 185 Street and Stony Plain Road, around 8 p.m. on August 28.
“There was a report of an altercation taking place between an accused who had allegedly stolen some things from the store and two loss prevention officers,” said Patrycia Thenu, an Edmonton police spokesperson.
Jeremy Garnhum, 26, has been charged with assault with a weapon, assault to overcome arrest, theft under $5,000, and possession of a weapon dangerous to the public.
The accused was treated for injuries but not admitted to hospital.
As of Tuesday, no charges had been laid against the Loss Prevention Officers.
“The investigation is still open,” said Thenu. “If charges are appropriate, the officers can always lay those charges.”
Police say the video has been submitted as court evidence.
In a statement, Walmart said:
“We are deeply concerned about the incident that occurred at our West Edmonton store.
“Nothing is more important than ensuring our associates and customers are safe and we are conducting a review of our processes to ensure all safety considerations are addressed.”
There is no word on whether the loss prevention officers are still employed by the giant retailer.
Legal counsel for Global News explains that loss prevention officers have the same power as any other member of the public to make a citizen’s arrest of someone they “find committing” an indictable offence.
In contrast, peace officers (police included) have the power to arrest someone if there are “reasonable grounds to believe” that someone has committed an offence.
Garry Clement, a former high-ranking RCMP officer who now works as a corporate security consultant had concerns with what the video depicted.
“We don’t know what went on before, but the part that I think disturbs me a little bit is that – in any situation like this – there has to be an element of professionalism.”
“What I see here is two young individuals … their language is atrocious as far as I’m concerned, they don’t come across professional,” said Clement.
“Even once you get the individual down, that taking an extra swing and hitting somebody is not really something that you want to see.”
“This here is just conduct that would not be acceptable to me.”
Clement believes the video highlights the need for more training.
“My first reaction is there is a need for enhanced training of individuals that are working in this capacity.”
“They are not armed police officers,” Clement added, “they’re civilians, and they’re affecting an arrest as a civilian.”
“In this case, if they’ve identified the individual, to go to that extreme, I think begs to ask a lot of questions.”
Alberta Justice’s Security Services and Investigators Program – through which loss prevention officers must be licensed – is aware of the August 28 incident and will review it.
None of the charges against the suspect have been proven in court.
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