Target Employee Fired Over Black Friday Trampling Incident

After 14 years on the job, the head of security at a Buffalo, NY, Target store has been given the heave-ho-ho-ho after video of customers being trampled on Black Friday became an internet sensation.

The video, which shows customers literally running over each other to be the first ones in the door on Black Friday made national news. And after an investigation by the retail chain, it was decided that the store’s head of security had not done his job correctly.

The former security chief tells WKBW that he was let go “Because I didn’t make certain phone calls in the correct amount of time… you make a call to corporate to call people who need to know in our district that something has happened.” He explains that he had his hands full trying to maintain order at the store.

Another alleged reason behind dismissing the employee was that he did not properly employ barricades to keep line crashers at bay.

But he says that the real reason for his being fired is that the video went viral and Target had to find a scapegoat.

“It put pressure on Target,” he says. “They were, OK we have to do something.”

As we reported last week, one man at the Buffalo store suffered a herniated disk after being trampled by his fellow Target shoppers. The chain has reportedly agreed to take care of his medical bills.

Only On Eyewitness News: Was A Target Employee Targeted After Black Friday Incident? [WKBW.com]

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  1. obits3 says:

    “he did not properly employ barricades to keep line crashers at bay.”

    This. If Target gave him barricades, then they should have been used.

    • EmDeeEm says:

      Target’s “barricades” consist of a line of shopping carts.

      • LadySiren is murdering her kids with HFCS and processed cheese says:

        Wrong – our Target had typical crowd control barricades set up in a line on Black Friday. Combined with other security measures, they were quite effective.

        While I feel for this guy, I do have to say that the immense crowd at our Target was handled WAY better than the one in the video appeared to be. We had crowd control barricades, uniformed team members policing the line for line jumpers, and a uniformed police officer standing by.

        At 4 AM, they opened a single side door (not double doors like at the front of the store) and asked us to enter the store in single file. Once inside, more uniformed team members were distributing carts and funneling shoppers towards various areas. The only problem we ran into was in Electronics, where things were a bit more chaotic.

    • beer4me says:

      umm he is the head of security.. Wouldn’t it be his job to procure barricades and decide they need to be used? I’m not sure who would “give them to him”

      • obits3 says:

        You can only use the supplies you are given. For example, it would be absurd to ask a BK employee to make a hot dog. Thus, IF he was supplied with barricades or money to buy barricades, then the fault is on him; however, IF he did not have these things, then the fault is not on him.

        • RandomHookup says:

          Head of security in a store has a little more authority (and access to all their inventory) than a burger flipper.

          • dolemite says:

            This is target…head of security for a store is about equal to a jr. assistant manager…maybe.

            It’s not like they have a crack team of security specialists with grappling lines and riot gear.

          • runswithscissors says:

            Wait, you mean to their store/retail inventory? Target doesn’t sell crowd control barricades, do they? So how would he take some from inventory?

        • Tom Foolery says:

          Toys R Us used to use shopping carts flipped upside down as makeshift barricades

    • BfloAnonChick says:

      I worked for Target for 9 years, and at that store for 4. Left last Christmas. I’ve never seen physical barriers used on Black Friday (or any other time, for that matter). It’s just the Assets Protection (Security) guys, encouraging everyone to remain in line and move in an orderly fashion.

      I had the opportunity to work with Lou at both stores I worked at, and thought very highly of him. I DO believe that he was only fired because Target needed someone to hold up before the national media as being “at fault”.

      So grateful for my non-retail desk job. I still have nightmares about that company.

      • runswithscissors says:

        Thanks for the first-hand take on things, always helps flesh out a story. Shame on Target if he was just a scapegoat.

        • jivesukka says:

          Accept that is not entirely correct. Direction from corporate was to use carts to create a line. Every store in my district in Minnesota used it and we kicked out line jumpers immediately.

          This isn’t a scapegoat. They had no plan. It was bad and someone was injured. He did not do his job so that is fine grounds for termination in my book.

    • Rantaholic says:

      I’d fire some executive instead of a 14 year employee who has to handle bad company policies the best he can. Shouldn’t the person(s) who trampled the people be held accountable? They have video of who did it don’t they? :)

      I’d prosecute every one who who injured someone from the video and maybe THAT will get people to slow down if they know they will get jail time for stepping on some somebody’s face….

      I lined up outside early for Furtureshop’s(Canadian BestBuy Subsid.) Boxing Day Sale after Christmas one year and they actually had employees go down the line to ask each person if they were interested in a particular big ticket item and they would mark down their info so they wouldn’t have to scramble for it. They did this for 10-15 big ticket items. It was a great idea…

      They also head counted people going in the store and only let in a certain number of people every so many minutes.

  2. cardigan says:

    Good. Here’s hoping they hire someone competent this time.

    • The cake is a lie! says:

      Competent people find jobs at places other than Target.

      I’m glad someone got fired for that. That is just unacceptable. Someone should have been there ensuring that kind of thing didn’t happen. When you see a crowd of people outside tapping on the glass chanting “Open. Open. Open.” then you find ways to control their entrance. remember the commercials of the employees in body casts arguing about who has to open the doors? History has only taught us that we learn nothing from history. Someone should have lost their job for that and the head of security is a pretty good target (no pun intended) since crowd control is pretty much his main concern on Black Friday.

      • Applekid ┬──┬ ノ( ã‚œ-゜ノ) says:

        Dunno, with the economy the way it is right now, I know college graduates working shit jobs just so they can afford a place to live.

    • Griking says:

      Instead of firing their security supervisor they should be pressing charges against every person in the video that they can identify who was pushing and creating the dangerous environment in the first place. Hold people responsible for their actions.

  3. Mr. Fix-It says: "Canadian Bacon is best bacon!" says:

    I don’t know anything about Target’s employment habits, but I get the nasty feeling he wanted to arrange for extra staff/equipment, and the owner of said Target told him it couldn’t be done.

    • obits3 says:

      I think that this would be his best claim for wrongful termination.

      • fortymegafonzies says:

        Most states are “at-will” empoyment states, I think New York is too. There is no such thing as wronful termination …he could have been fired because didn’t like the same football team as the boss and it wouldn’t matter for anything.

  4. areaman says:

    This is kind of a surprise. I thought they’d pull the same thing Walmart did (admit no fault and pay off the city and family of the victim).

    • Hoss says:

      How bout let’s hope Target hires police for crowd control.

      • areaman says:

        That’s the sad thing about the situation. Target worked with the police before the event and the police agreed to show up.

        However, the police assigned to go to Target that morning/night got called away to a higher priority issue.

        • regis-s says:

          Not sure how happy I’d be knowing that city cops were being paid to be security guards for a store. Unless the store was paying they’re wages for the time they were there. Which I kind of doubt.

      • DanRydell says:

        IIRC they did arrange for the police to be there for the opening, but they were called to a shooing and couldn’t make it.

  5. APriusAndAGrill says:

    Really, Target, Really? How about blame the manager for opening the door when it was obviously unsafe then. No one person caused this.

    • pf3 says:

      You just blamed one person and then said that they couldn’t blame one person.

      • coren says:

        He was giving an example of another person who could easily be blamed, not suggesting that person was to blame.

    • u1itn0w2day says:

      Exactly. There should’ve been somekind of checks and balances. It’s sounds like Target’s management practices are the problem here.

      My guess everyone was under pressure along with tired from “preparing” for the day. The pay level at places like Target allows you to worry about your own butt only. If it’s not your job or planned area of responsibility it’s not your problem.

      I wonder what would’ve happened if someone spoke up to delay the opening and have security “calm” the crowds down.

    • Beeker26 says:

      Or how about you blame the stupid fucking people acting like a herd of cattle instead of human beings? Seriously, it’s not like you were trying to escape from a burning building. At what point do you stop trampling over someone to get a discounted item? Is 10% enough? Or does it need to be more like 30%?

      • FuzzyWillow says:

        I think you are fighting against human evolution here. Sociologists have predictive theories about crowd behavior. Thus, the need to be prepared.

        • Beeker26 says:

          So at what point does the “crowd” get a free pass for acting like animals? Would it be ok if there was a group of 6? 20? 50 or more? At what point does depravity become acceptable? If a group of 6 thugs beat up someone that’s a crime. But when a 50+ mob tramples someone in order to get a good deal on merch, that’s ok? Sorry, but that’s bullshit.

          • magadorspartacus says:

            I agree that it’s total bulls**t for people to act like that. But I think back to the infamous Who concert that took place in Cincinnati a couple years before I moved here. The people in the crowd flipped out because they thought they were missing the concert and as a result, 11 people died from being trampled. Survivors of the incident indicate that they thought they were going to die. I’m not trying to justify the concert or the Target situation, but it can be easy to get swept up by group think in a situation like this.

  6. humphrmi says:

    A scapegoat is someone who did their job as asked, but got fired anyway. I don’t see him as a scapegoat.

    Security is responsible for the safety of customers while in the store. A person got trampled, and was injured, as a result of a security failure at the store. Whether he was trying his best to resolve the situation or not, proper planning in advance and dealing with the crowds as they lined up may have prevented this.

    • pplrppl says:

      Funny, I though Security was related to damage, loss, and criminal activity. I think you are confusing him with being the head of Safety not Security.

      • RandomHookup says:

        I’m pretty sure Target can put the head of security in charge of just about anything they want.

      • humphrmi says:

        Target doesn’t hire a “head of safety”. However, let’s look at one of their “Executive Team Leader – Asset Protection” job descriptions:

        http://targetcareers.target.com/job/Bluffton-Executive-Team-Leader-Assets-Protection-Job-SC-29909/832508/

        First four words in the job responsibilities bullet points: “Keep our stores safe”. What comes after keeping the stores safe? “secure against loss from theft and fraud”. Safety first, loss prevention second.

        • Excuse My Ambition Deficit Disorder says:

          Yes, safety of the store…not of the people in the store or the employees. It seems you are twisting the words to fit your definition of such and to back your previous argument. Maybe you need to step back a bit and open your mind to both sides….

          • humphrmi says:

            It seems like you’re the one twisting words if you think that “safety of the store” doesn’t mean it’s occupants. I’ve worked with dozens of security folks, and they all agree: human safety is always the number one job.

    • devilsadvocate says:

      The unsafe condition was created by Target and the sales they were running. Target is as much to blame for helping create a frenzy as the security guard is for not being able to maintain order. Also, if you read the story in the papers, the police were suppossed to be there to help control the crowd, but were called to another call before they arrived. Even the best laid plans have flaws. SInce there is video of the trampling, why doesn’t someone go after the people that walked over the guy so they could by a tv? There are just so many problems with the whole “Black Friday” system and the injuries that it creates, some reform is really in order. Some cities have banned door buster sales like this for reasons of public safety so it can be done.

    • ludwigk says:

      “May have prevented this?” So no guarantees, meaning you concede that the Sec. Chief may have done his job properly, meaning he could be a scape goat.

      Your conclusion is shaky. You are assuming blame based upon the outcome, which requires a hefty number of inferential steps.

      You are also assuming that whatever constitutes “proper planning” in these circumstances would have been the same thing as “doing what the security chief was asked to do.” A high level description of the job includes the blanket statement of “maintaining safety”. However, on a store-level, you’re going to have a big binder of policy rules to follow, which may or may not have any rational connection to actual store safety.

    • Excuse My Ambition Deficit Disorder says:

      He is there to secure the store and it’s contents…he is not a police officer who is there to serve and protect the people.

  7. ElleAnn says:

    This is incentive for store security employees to kick out customers who are using videophones.

    • obits3 says:

      I think a sense a new “Receipt checker” like set of stories…

      • Applekid ┬──┬ ノ( ã‚œ-゜ノ) says:

        Perhaps they should hand out receipts outside the store and only let them in if they show it to the guard?

    • jesirose says:

      Stores already attempt to do this. My understanding is they can’t since it’s a public location (yes, the store is privately owned, but it’s open to the public).

      • RandomHookup says:

        Citation? I’m pretty sure there is no legal right to videotape inside a store.

        • jesirose says:

          What law says you can’t? You don’t need a law to permit you to do something that makes sense.

          You see people videotaping cops. Photographing monuments. There are rules about expectation of privacy. You have none in a store.

          There’s a reason I said it was my understanding, and didn’t claim it as a hard fact. I don’t feel like looking it up. If someone personally wants to go videotape in a store and have laws to back them up, or find out if they even can…they can do the research. I’ll just stick to discrete camera-phoneing.

          • Michaela says:

            “Property owners may legally prohibit
            photography on their premises
            but have no right to prohibit others
            from photographing their property
            from other locations.” -Photographer’s Rights Wallet Card

            I am sure the same thing applies to videotaping.

  8. bogartbrown says:

    Well, I guess being fired is an upgrade from dying like the guy from Walmart a couple years ago…

  9. alSeen says:

    Someone explain to me why it was awesome that the Walmart in that small town wasn’t able to get the variance to stay open 24 hours for Black Friday?

    This is what happens when you have a highly anticipated sale and force people to line up outside in the cold and try to funnel them through a relatively small opening.

    This doesn’t happen at stores that are open 24 hours because everyone is able to line up inside near the items they want to buy.

    • aloria says:

      I was wondering the same thing when that story came out.

      People bitch about the Black Friday stampedes, but when a store actually does something to try to avoid one, they’re happy about it?

      What do they want, for stores to not have Black Friday sales at all? Then they’ll be bitching about that same company laying off store employees when they don’t make their quarterly profit targets.

  10. jariten says:

    Seems appropriate to me. He held a job of authority and accountability. He failed at exercising that authority to maintain the safety in the store and is therefore responsible for what occured. It does not preclude there being additional responsibility held elsewhere in the managment chain but I don’t see how it was not, at least, majorly responsible for the incident unless he explicatly stated that it was unsafe and was overruled. If that had occured, I’m sure it would have come out.

  11. Duckula22 says:

    Another example of when people think they really know (management/corporate), yet they’re not the ones who actually do the job.

  12. AngryK9 says:

    Right. Because we certainly can’t blame any of those gluttonous greed-mongers out there who eject all courtesy and common sense to get a piddly little discount on a bunch of crap that they don’t need.

    • u1itn0w2day says:

      I’m sure if someone really studied the video and followed the stampeders through out the store they could get their names from register reciepts or even the license plate of the car they go back to. These are some of the people that need to hung out to dry.

  13. thor79 says:

    He is the scapegoat. Company execs hope that nothing will happen. If it does, then people get fired. Whether or not the store had said barricades or whether or not they used them properly is probably not the issue here. It’s probably that he attempted to get more resources and was denied, but of course Target won’t admit to that…so he loses his job.

    They say they put customer safety first. If that were true then the obvious thing to do would not have “Doorbuster” sales, as that is exactly what leads to this kind of incident. They can certainly do the same level of sales just do it in a different more orderly way.The practice of opening the doors and letting everyone flood in is asinine and needs to stop. Who says you have to let them flood in? Open the doors but let customers enter 1 at a time. If you run through the store or push and shove your way to a deal, you get booted and you don’t get the deals. They know exactly which items are the doorbusters. Keep them under lock and key and have an orderly hand out as people walk to the deals. Get out of line (as in, act crazy), and you get booted. Of course they won’t do that, no one will, but that would be a much safer way to do these sales.

    • RandomHookup says:

      Stores have come up with many ways to manage Black Friday doorbuster sales — including handing out vouchers to the line sitters, having elaborate queuing systems (like banks and fast food places), using barricades, having more staff control the lines and more.

  14. u1itn0w2day says:

    I’m sure there’s plenty of blame to go around but I think more than one guy messed up here. And where was the store manager double checking security measures and procedures. Where was the store manager with the back up of customers at the DOOR and not in line. Did Target give any special training on crowd control or was a memo their training. I smell a scapegoat here as well.

  15. brit2380 says:

    To fire the guy for not following Target’s safety procedures, sure, it has vadility. But no amount of barricades could have stopped people from being trampled on. The whole rush for black friday deals is ridiculous, and gets people hurt no matter what you do to make people safe.

  16. malimal99 says:

    any thought to finding the people that actually trampled him and suing them. then people wouldn’t be so quick to rush doors. I know the store is at fault as well.

    • u1itn0w2day says:

      Follow the stampeders on the security camera tape-hopefully Target has a digital system in that store where it’s in constant record mode. Trace back to their car/license plate or get the name off one of their purchases. Or computer enhance their photos and put them on America’s most wanted for creating a catstrophe, inciting a rioting, mayhem, aggrevated mayhem, blocking a door way in a public place,assault, reckless endangerment-take your pick.

  17. framitz says:

    He was in charge of security, crowd control failed miserably. He’s responsible and he’s fired. Sounds about right to me. May or may not be fair.

  18. dudski says:

    There’s a followup article (the usual “what do our viewers think?” crap, no actual updates) that quotes him as saying “I feel like I became the sacrificial lamb. Could they have said Lou, you didn’t follow this policy or execute this plan? I think yes, maybe some corrective action.”

    So…he thinks he should have been held accountable, but not fired? He was supposed to use barricades and he didn’t. After it happened, he didn’t call it in to whatever supervisor or hotline Target requires its stores to contact in case of an incident like this. If he were saying that they didn’t give him barricades or that they cut his staffing or that it was only a few minutes before he called, it’d be different, but he’s not saying any of those things.

    Full disclosure: I work for Walmart, so assume whatever level of soullessness/Black Friday experience/bias you want. As for the idea that he’s a scapegoat: I don’t know what Target’s procedures are like, but the way Walmart handles Black Friday now, this would also have fallen on one specific manager. Can you be told in advance that it’s on you if you don’t follow procedure and something goes wrong and still be a scapegoat?

  19. Amnesiac85 says:

    I think it’s sad that we live in a society where people will trample each other just to get a sale. I’ve seen comments on various blogs insinuating that “It’s the stores faults for having such ridiculous sales, it makes people go crazy.” Are we so brainwashed by society that a smaller price tag makes us all into mindless animals that stampede to the best sale? Yes, maybe their security didn’t take all the precautions, but I will chalk it up more to adults acting like animals.

    • lostark98 says:

      “Are we so brainwashed by society that a smaller price tag makes us all into mindless animals that stampede to the best sale?”

      Yes. Exactly.

      I haven’t been in a store to shop, nor will I shop, just because it’s so ridiculous.

  20. stlbud says:

    So, why is Target to blame? If these people were looters after a winning Superbowl game the police would be arresting them. They were not looters but unruly rioters and should have been treated as such. The people in the video should be hunted down and held accountable.

  21. jheyneman says:

    WKBW! Wimpy Kiddy Baby Whiners! That’s what that stands for!

  22. sopmodm14 says:

    if the customers are at fault, then shouldn’t they hold a fake doorbuster and call it off, just to teach customers a lesson ?

    i think the retail association should ban target (and other retailers) from having black friday sales

    or

    have standard protocols such as the use of barricades (no line jumpers/skippers, as well as crowd control into ordering lines) as well as officers in place

    if stores don’t comply, fines and/or sanctions

    did they even train security for black friday or provide equipment for them to use ?

  23. Blious says:

    The entire eposide is embarrassing

    If stores can not make it clear that anyone running will be kicked out….then they should not be open at all

    Everyone who pushes or shoves should have their asses kicked out immediately

    This shove-to-the-death mentality is embarrassing

  24. Excuse My Ambition Deficit Disorder says:

    I believe he hit the nail on the head “…Target had to find a scapegoat.” I don’t see how any of the reasons they gave for his firing would have deterred people from trampling people at the door.

  25. thrlsekr says:

    This is a retailer that offered items at below cost (40″ 1080P LCD HDTV $298.99) and having little stock to support demand creating the environment for this issue to happen. Without the appropriate resources to maintain the civility of the line of customers trying to get the deal, I wonder how many other stores this happen to without the video going viral!

  26. ames says:

    God, watching that video stressed me out. I hate the whole Black Friday thing.

  27. ace944 says:

    I work at Target as security. On black Friday we used carts as barricades and it went off smoothly and we also informed the people gathering outside the line that they would be removed if they cut the line and the same went for anyone that ran.

  28. stevied says:

    Yep, somebody needs to pay for this with their job.

    Congrats. It was your turn.

    Next time somebody else will pay for such a screwup with their job. It is only fair. Besides it is cheaper to fire employees than it is to do something right the first time.

    Quote, Corporate America Handbook for the Feeble Minded CEO.

  29. nocturnaljames says:

    Poor guy got fired because of stupid greedy & savage black friday shoppers.. so sad. Video tells all, target doesn’t have enough employees to control a mob like that. In fact they could have just looted the store and target security would be helpless.

  30. INsano says:

    “The video, which shows customers literally running over each other to be the first ones in the door on Black Friday made national news. “

    That’s not what “literally” means. You and everyone else need to stop that.