Friday, August 20, 2010

Deaf Shoplifter Suing

Christopher Rea, the deaf shoplifter from LA who was placed in a chokehold by an overly zealous security guard, is suing Forever 21, for whom the guard worked for.

The fact that he has a record of shoplifting and shoplifted on that day as well was besides the point. The store agreed that the security guard performed an act that was against the store policy and put him on suspension. So, if it was against the store's policy for their guards to place chokeholds on their suspects, why did this guard use this tactic? Like all other cases involving chokeholds and batons on the suspects - frustration. The guard clearly was frustrated that Rea did not stop when the guard called him to stop, proceeded to restrain him and placed him in chokehold.

View the video - Rea's face was almost purple. That is worth thousands words, folks. He did not fight the guard. He was not combative. So why the hell did the guard continue to use chokehold for a length of time? My guess is because Rea did not verbally respond and the guard interpreted that as resisting therefore continued to keep him in a chokehold. He totally ignored Rea's taps on his arm. Why? Hearing people are totally oblivious to physical contacts. They totally exist on sounds.

I believe this could have been shorter if Rea's brother had written a note and told the guard his charge was deaf and was tapping him arm to tell him to stop. It is unknown why Rea's brother did not do that. Apparently he stood there and did nothing. Perhaps he was afraid he might also get arrested for getting involved.

The store acknowledged that their guard performed an illegal act, but I feel suspension doesn't justify the act. I feel the guard should be fired. Rea could have died. The guard clearly did not have frustration threshold, and ignored signs and visuals. Fire him, Forever 21. And train your guards to understand the limits of their duties better. They are not cops. They are just guards and have limited role in apprehending shoplifters. Better to let them go and lose a few bucks than getting sued for millions and getting tarnished reputation.

However, the moral here is: Don't commit any crime. It doesn't pay.


Anonymous said...

I thought his name was Alejandro, not Christopher?

We can all choose to be judgemental, and claim that the people involved did the wrong thing and should have done something differently. Or we can choose to support them wholeheartedly. I believe both Alejandro and Pablo did everything they could have given the circumstances.

RLM said...

Deaf Tea Time,

Great to see you come back!

That's what I told others about not knowing the whole story what happened on the day when Reis got chokeholded.

The security guard ought to know better than grabbing his head.

I guess that Reis exploited such an incident to make $$ off his crime.

Yes, crime do pay! :(


Deaf Tea Lady said...

The shoplifter is in jail for shoplifting right now. Clearly he DID shoplift. My blog was not about shoplifting - it was about the wrongdoing on the part of the security guard.

How do the store determine and proceed to accuse a person of shoplifting? There was no receipt in his shopping bag at time of the arrest and the security checkpoint rang because the magnetic security devices were not removed by the store clerk.

He remains in jail due to lacking the fund for bail.


I do support Rea in his lawsuit against the store - using chokehold doesn't justify apprehending a mere shoplifter. It is the Carl Dupree case all over again. Most store's policy on shoplifter who ignore instructions or flee is for the guard to walk away from it and return to the store. It is better to lose a few bucks than harming the shoplifter which may bite them back in form of a lawsuit.

I don't know if crime does pay - after all, Christopher Rea almost died....

mishkazena said...

It's my impression the brother did try to communicate and even showing the receipt. Unfortunately the security manager (or whoever that man was) wasn't interested, rebuffing that brother. That part disturbed me as I cannot understand why the manager won't take the time to understand what the brother was trying to communicate. Poorly trained, I guess.

Another thing that puzzles me. If it's obvious the goon, I mean, the glorified bouncer, was using excessive force and deadly assault. Why wasn't he charged with deadly assault and arrested? The proof is on the tape. Hopefully he will be charged eventually and found guilty. A gross miscarriage of justice had happened. I hope the Deaf guys will find justice.

Deaf Tea Lady said...

Mishka Zena

I don't see anything in the article whether Rea had any receipt on him or anything like that. Surely had the manager found the receipt in his bag, he/she would have let him go. Rea has a record involving robbery and shoplifting so it is not farfetched that he did shoplift. Although he held the store bag, he could easily swiped it off the cashier's hook at an unoccupied bay. I know kids who do that.

But nothing justified the "glorified bouncer" to tackle him, put him in a chokehold and then throwing him against the wall in the manager's office when he demanded that he produced the receipt (that was stated in another article, not in the one I provided)when Rea insisted he didn't steal the items but failed to produce the receipt. The manager proceeded to call the cops to have him arrested. Nothing in the article stated where his brother was while Rea was in the manager's office awaiting cop's arrival.

Finally, the fact that Rea doesn't have money for bail and remains in jail, and that nobody came forward to bail him out (usually family members) may indicate that he has no money hence reason for shoplifting.

I agree - the security guard should be fired, and then charged with deadly assault.

mishkazena said...

I didn't get that from the newspaper articles, but from watching the tape. The brother was holding something that looked like a receipt.

The pushing the deaf guy against the wall, not once but twice shows the need for this goon to take some anger management classes. That guy has no business working in this field.

Deaf Tea Lady said...

Mishka Zena

Perhaps the receipt was brother's? I believe has also in the store with Rea.

Twice, yeah. Zero frustration threshold. He is basically a bully. He probably sought a job in security after failing at police academy or something like that. He sought opportunity to bully somebody. Rea was an unfortunate victim. Bullies project anger upon others.

Anonymous said...

Fyi the name is Alejandro.. Christopher is thin brother and alejandro is bigger guy.. the guy who got tackled and choked by Security is alejandro.. The guy in white shirt i assume christopher?? i know alejandro but not his brother...

Anonymous said...

I can't make the judgment till I have to see what the tape show PRE- choke. Did two deaf shoppers tried ran away before choke? Did they resist the security guard in a force way before choke ? Did the security guard saw the monitor tv and knowledge two deaf shoppers talked in sign language before indictment?
That's why we have to wait and see the fact what they was doing PRE- choked tape.

Deaf Tea Lady said...

Magron 8

It doesn't matter. Security guards are NOT allowed to tackle and choke people, period. Only COPS are. Security guards are not cops. They are not allowed to perform arrest tactics that cops are TRAINED to do. Since this security guard did perform chokehold leads me to believe possibly he was a former cop because security guards are not trained to do those things.

What security guard does is approach the suspected shoplifter, ask to see the bag, ask to see the receipt. If the person produces it, he lets go. If not, then he will escort the person to the manager's office where the manager calls the cops to come for the ACTUAL arrest. Security guards don't arrest people. The guns they carry is only for THEIR protection in event the shoplifter pulls a weapon or fights back. They don't use weapons to stick it to the shoplifter to ask for the receipt or shoot if the suspect flees. Guns are only for their protection, not to be used on the suspects except if they fight back.

Lots of people are ignorant and do not understand what ASL is. It is pretty obvious the guard was frustrated that Rea did not stop when the guard instructed him to stop, proceeded to tackle him (guards are not allowed to tackle, either)and place him in chokehold.
Rea did not fight back.

What the guard should have done is tap on his shoulders (as was done by guards on other deaf shoplifters that I knew at Gallaudet), write or gesture for a receipt. If none, proceed to put arms behind for handcuff and escort the suspect to the manager's office.

IF the deaf suspect fights back, resists being handcuffed, the guard is to grab arms and pull them behind the person and high in the air to restrict movement, move the suspect against a wall, and then slap on the handcuff, and perhaps call for assistance as the suspect may continue to resist.

There are limits to what a security guard can do. Real cops are allowed wider arrest tactics including tackling and chokeholds (although many depts discourage chokeholds as they can result in serious air passageway restriction which can lead to death, resulting in lawsuits filed by family members - so it is a personal discretion to perform this tactic).

What happened prior to the arrest is besides the point, really. Mere shoplifting does NOT justify placing Rea in chokehold, period. He was also thrown against the wall by the same guard in the manager's office and Rea had injuries from that as well.

It is also a fact that cops/guards use chokeholds out of FRUSTRATION and ANGER when they are not finding the arrest going smoothly.

Anonymous said...

Good point but...... Before the choked those guys, what if one or two deaf shopper kick guard's balls or slap guard's face like Zsa Zsa Gabor but she did on cop not guard.
That is reason I don't rush the judgment till I know the fact first.
Thank for posting anyway.

Deaf Tea Lady said...


If the person fights back such as slapping, scratching, kicking, the guard is supposed to get behind the person and pull both arms behind the person to restrict his movement, then either put the person against a wall or force him onto the floor to restrict leg movements, then proceed to put on the handcuffs. That is what cops also do.

Cops use chokeholds only for those truly combative - in mose cases, a person high on drugs who may be extra strong because of the drugs, especially LSD, making it almost impossible to put this person in the standard behind-the-back, legs-against-wall/floor method. The purpose of chokehold is to restrict oxygen to the person, making the person sleepy due to lack of oxygen to the brain, to make the person quiet down so the cop could proceed to put on the handcuffs. However, there is huge risk because if the cop keeps the person in chokehold, the person can die from lack of oxygen or broken thorax which will close off the throat from inside.

For a guard, if the person becomes very aggressive, I'd think it is best to let go. Not worth risking his job if the guard harms the suspect. Not worth for the store to lose money in a lawsuit if the guard harms the suspect. The store would lose only a few bucks.

However, that is not what happened with Rea. He never fought back. There was no reason for the guard to put him in a chokehold. I can only reach to one conclusion - the guard projected his frustration on Rea because he did not follow his verbal command to stop, and the guard interpreted that Rea was fleeing. It is possible that when Rea signed, the guard thought he was fighting back with his arms, and reacted with a chokehold.