When a suspected shoplifter pulled a gun on employees at a Walmart in Utah last month, the staffers say they were left with no choice but to disarm the man, which they managed to do without anyone getting shot. Unfortunately for them, Walmart says it had no choice but to let these employees go.
It began when Walmart workers noticed the suspect stick a netbook under his clothes. He was met at the exit by a loss-prevention coordinator who escorted him back to the loss-prevention room at the store where three more employees joined him.
When the shoplifter pulled out the netbook, he also pulled out his handgun.
“It’s cocked, guys,” the gun-wielding fellow reportedly told the workers. “Don’t make me do this.”
One of the employees was able to wrest the gun from the suspect, who was then taken to the ground until police arrived.
Unfortunately for these four, Walmart company policy states that employees are not to engage armed suspects and they were all subsequently fired.
“She said, ‘You’re fired,’” [one employee] recalled, of the person brought in to let him go. “You’re being terminated for a violation of AP09.” AP09 is Walmart’s policy on dealing with shoplifters. A copy obtained by KSL shows employees are allowed to use “reasonable force” to limit movements of struggling suspects. If a weapon comes out, however, associates must “disengage” and “withdraw,” the policy states.
The workers say they don’t know where they would have withdrawn to, with the door behind them closed in a small room and the man charging at them. They contend they had no other real option.
A rep for Walmart released the following statement:
We appreciate the intentions demonstrated by our associates in this situation, but the actions taken put their safety – and potentially the safety of our customers and other associates – in jeopardy. In their roles within the store, they were aware of our expectations regarding safety and, unfortunately, their actions have led to them no longer working for the company.
Last spring, an employee at a Walmart in Kansas was fired after being kicked and punched by a shoplifter. Not surprisingly, Walmart gave the exact same statement about that employee’s dismissal.
What do you think about these rules that prohibit employees from physically confronting someone brandishing a weapon?