Sam Garie has cerebral palsy and is unsteady on his feet.
The Surrey resident says because of his appearance and the way he walks, he was asked by Guildford Town Centre security guards repeatedly if he was OK.
“I was very polite,” says Garie. ” I said ‘leave me alone, I’m disabled, please leave me alone’, and they didn’t get the message.”
Garie was shopping with his girlfriend at the time.
Security guards had received a call that someone was staggering around the mall, so they approached Garie a third time and that is when the situation escalated.
He says he felt threatened by the guards and tried to defend himself.
“The next thing you know, there was like four or five guys on me, you know, literally pinned me on the ground and then it’s kind of hard I think,” says Garie, struggling with his emotions.
His girlfriend Dawn says she could not believe what happened and the way the guards dealt with the situation was wrong.
Nobody from Guildford Town Centre would comment on camera on Tuesday, but did say security followed the right procedures and handled the incident properly, with the safety of guests in mind.
Garie was handcuffed until police arrived. He says he is used to facing judgement, but calls this incident, the worst.
Cerebral advocates say it points to the need for more awareness and better training.
“The first question anyone should ask is ‘do you have any type of disabilities that we are not aware of?’, says Feri Dehdar, from the Cerebal Palsy Association of BC. “So that’s the key to ask people first before pushing them down.”
Garie wants to make sure this type of thing doesn’t happen to anyone with a disability again.
– With files from Tanya Beja