This Job Is Murder!
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following vignette is based on a case where the author has
been retained as an expert witness. The example involves
violence in the workplace.
alterations of fact patterns have been deliberately made in
order to protect families, and preserve settlement agreements.
This is a work in progress, and new cases will be added regularly.
feedback, questions and inquiries are welcome.
Publication Pending, ©Copyright2002 J. R. Roberts, Security Strategies
Three: "Darryl" PDF
moved easily along the hot streets of the urban neighborhood.
He had grown up on these streets. He knew their sights and sounds
and rhythms. He was part of these streets, now. Homeless. Not yet
30 and homeless. It wasn't always like this. Darryl was the son
of loving parents. His father was a minister and well respected
in the community.
Darryl wasn't completely lost. He checked in on and helped his parents
out almost every day. His father hoped that Darryl would find a
way to kick the cocaine habit he had developed. In spite of everything,
Darryl had managed to avoid any serious brushes with the law. He
kept himself and his clothes clean. There was still hope for Darryl.
Even on his last day.
The air inside the store was cold. A welcome relief from the blistering
heat outside. Darryl moved up and down the aisles of the cavernous
store, a plastic basket in hand.
Bob was muttering to himself under his breath as he finished stocking
the lower shelf. His back hurt, and at 45, he resented having to
do all the grunt work. Bob had played high school football. Been
pretty good, too.
Hadn't had the chance to go to college and play, though. All the
scholarships went to "them". His eyes narrowed in contempt
when he saw Darryl. He watched him for a few moments, then caught
the attention of the assistant store manager who was travelling
towards the stock room.
"Hey. You see him"? Bob indicated Darryl with a nod of
his head. "He's going to be stealing from us and going out
the door." Bob walked off in pursuit of Darryl. Bob liked to
catch shoplifters. It was a break from the monotony of the day and
always gave him a sense of excitement. At every store he had been
transferred to, Bob had the highest number of shoplifting detentions.
Catching sight of his quarry, Bob broke into a run, and shouted
"Hey, what do you think you're doing"?
Startled, Darryl turned to see the burly man bear down on him, roughly
grabbing the shopping basket from his hand. "Come with me to
the office." Bob demanded, turning to lead Darryl to the back
where he questioned shoplifting suspects.
In a panic, Darryl turned and ran to the exit. Bob pursued and caught
him at the door, seizing the smaller man in a tight bear hug. Darryl
struggled desperately and broke free.
Bob grabbed at the man again, calling for help. The assistant store
manager and two clerks rushed forward, as Darryl burst through the
doors and onto the street. Bob caught Darryl with a flying tackle
and took him down hard onto the pavement.
Darryl continued to try and break away as Bob struggled to turn
him face up on the sidewalk. "Get his legs. Help me turn him
over and hold him." Bob ordered to his three co-workers.
The men complied, roughly rolling Darryl onto his back. One clerk
lay across his legs, another across his waist. A third sat on his
chest, while Bob knelt on Darryl's neck. Darryl tried to speak,
telling the men to get off him. Telling them that he couldn't breathe.
No one moved.
A crowd of by-standers and employees from neighborhood shops came
out of their stores. "They was chasin' people out that door
all the time." One local business owner would later say. "I
told them they oughtin' do that. Someone was going to get hurt real
Darryl stopped struggling and pleaded one last time for the men
to get off him.
"I can't breathe." He repeated, weakly.
Bob heard him quite clearly.
"He was faking." He told police officers.
While store employees called 911, the crowd grew and became increasingly
hostile. One man driving by, saw the crowd and pulled over to investigate.
"They were hurting that man. Anyone could see that. I told
them, if he stole from them, we'll keep him here till the police
arrive. But let him up. He can't breathe."
He was told by the store manager it was none of his business. That
he would be arrested unless he left the area. The crowd grew belligerent
and vocal, insisting the man be allowed to stand. The clerks refused
911 calls continued to pour into the police department. One of the
last calls prior to police arrival was a description of a "riot
By the time the police arrived on the scene, Darryl was dead.
case is included in this collection, because the wrongful death
of "Darryl" was a direct result of the actions of negligent
and reckless company employees.
The retail store in question has a written policy regarding shoplifters
that conforms to generally acceptable norms.
¨ Keep the subject
in sight at all times. Know exactly where the merchandise is concealed.
¨ Wait until the subject
has passed the last possible point of sale
¨ Do not touch the
¨ If the subject runs,
do not pursue them
policies were clearly intended to reduce the risk of violence to
subjects, employees, or innocent by-standers. They also reduce the
risk of exposure to civil action for unlawful detention.
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The practices of the store employees were a far- cry from the policies.
A review of incidents revealed that employees regularly engaged
in tactics that any reasonable person would expect to result in
injury and abuse.
"Bob" systematically targeted subjects in complete disregard
of stated company policies, and based on race. As we saw in Case
One, management failed to correct a continuous and on-going problem
concerning the behavior of an employee.
Proper background search and evaluation might have also revealed
that the employee in question should not have been given the responsibilities
or duties of loss prevention.
The public at large often complain about the size of jury awards,
frequently forgetting that these verdicts are intended to send a
As recent events have shown, corporate responsibility must resonate
at all levels of corporate life.
The consequences of failure are literally a matter of life and death.