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Police shoot shoplifting suspect after struggle

LILBURN — A man who tried to steal a frozen pizza from a Family Dollar and then wrestled with a police officer, was shot twice on Monday afternoon, police said.

Lilburn Police Chief Bruce Hedley said an officer responded to 5279 Lawrenceville Highway at about 2 p.m. after store employees reported a shoplifter in the store. Hedley said the officer had enough information to confront the suspect in front of a cash register and charge him with shoplifting.

But a struggle ensued and the two men fell to the ground, Hedley said, before the officer deployed a city-issued Taser to subdue the man, believed to be in his late 50s or early 60s.

Then, “in an instant it seems,” the officer said the suspect snatched the Taser from the officer.

That’s when the officer shot the man twice, once in the chest and once in the face.

Hedley said the suspect didn’t have any form of identification with him, and Lilburn police would try to identify him through fingerprints. The suspect was in critical condition at Gwinnett Medical Center, Hedley said. The officer was not injured.

When the incident began, the man had frozen pizza “stuck in his shirt,” and was caught by employees, though he initially was going to pay for some of the items, Hedley said. An officer asked store employees if they wanted to prosecute the man for the items, and they said they did because they were “tired of him coming in multiple times.”

Hedley said the fact that the man tried to steal frozen pizza was “very tragic in itself.” The man also had a dog with him that was tied up outside the store.

Hedley said this kind of situation is very rare, because most shoplifting calls are very benign or passive situations, and people don’t typically go to jail.

Charges are pending, but Hedley said he didn’t know specific charges yet on Monday evening.

Hedley said the officer is placed on paid administrative leave for a few days, but the preliminary investigaton revealed his use of force was justified.

The officer is a seven-year veteran of Lilburn Police with an excellent service record, Hedley said.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation and the Gwinnett County District Attorney’s Office were notified to investigate the case, Hedley said.

Comments

pcjohn 1 year ago

So this cop loses his taser to an old man and tries to kill him? I thought tasers were "non-lethal" so why did this cop "fear for his life" and use deadly force against an old man with a non-lethal weapon? Maybe this is a sign that law enforcement nowadays allows cops to shoot someone when things just aren't going the way they want them to go?

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Award88 1 year ago

@pcjohn, if the suspect were to have used the taser on the officer, it would have incapacitated the officer. That would have provided the criminal with the opportunity to grab the officers service weapon and potentially use it against the officer. Thus the officer did what he felt was prudent to protect himself and potentially the lives of others had the criminal decided to use the service weapon after acquisition.

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FordGalaxy 1 year ago

What should he have done? The suspect had gained control of the taser. Award88 makes a good point. If the suspect had used the taser on the officer, he then could have gained the officer's firearm, which he then could've used on the officer or anyone else. It's common sense to almost everyone that you don't forcibly take a weapon out of the hands of a police officer. The fact that this suspect struggled with the officer, then took his taser, was justification for use of force. Given that they were fighting, I doubt the officer had time to sight in exactly where he was going to shoot the guy. He may have made every effort to deliver nothing more than a flesh wound to stop the suspect, but in the struggle ended up shooting him in the chest and face. I don't blame the officer at all for his actions. Perhaps he shoulders some blame for allowing the suspect to get the taser, but his actions afterwards, I feel, are well within reason.

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LoganvilleResident 1 year ago

Tasers are "less lethal" when used as designed. They also will cause total incapacitation until their battery runs dry, which is several minutes, or until you let go of the trigger. They also can cause potentially life threatening events when they are NOT used as designed.

It is sad when people try and place blame on people other than the criminal that decided to fight a police officer while committing a crime.

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Why_not 1 year ago

PCJohn has a history of being totally anti-cop in his posts here.

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pcjohn 1 year ago

And whynot has a history of kissing up to the cops and being on their side no matter what occurs. I doubt if either one of us is correct all the time. Tell me, someone in your family carry a badge?

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daveparts 1 year ago

Your answer award, assumes the suspect violent when it was the cop who was violent. Point blank, if you're a cop who can't subdue an old man in the dollar store without a gun you need a career change. It's your tax money, if you think $200,000 or $300,000 spent on arresting a simple shoplifter is a good use of public funds, oh well.

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FordGalaxy 1 year ago

The suspect is described as being in his late-50s or early-60s. That's not really an "old man." I know several men who are over 55 who are truthfully in better shape than I am at 30.


Also, the article said the officer confronted the suspect and then a struggle ensued. Nowhere does it say the officer initiate the violence. Unless you believe that the officer merely confronting a suspect is provocation enough for violent response on the part of the suspect.

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FordGalaxy 1 year ago

You've got some anger issues, there, pcjohn. Even though I've noted that you are rather anti-police, I wouldn't say that you "suck it with no question."


I merely stated an opinion based on the article presented. I'm sorry that I'm not has hateful toward the cops as you are.

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Haughton 1 year ago

Who else is going to release information to the public? If the information was released by anyone but the police, then we the public would automatically scream coverup. In my opinion victims and or witnesses should stay away from the media. Too many times when those on the opposing side go the media they -immediately- destroy their public image and credibility, often without the advice of counsel.

Most citizens have and always will be on the side of law enforcement. From the volume of your posts on this particular incident, it is not hard to see where you stand. Respectfully, I think you are beating your head against a wall when you constantly side with the victim. Law enforcement is not perfect. The alternative is no law enforcement or military tactics with no recourse. Not perfect, but the US has it pretty good in comparison.

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Haughton 1 year ago

Since you refuse to read or understand logic, I will not bother reading your pro-criminal stance. Obviously, no one will ever win an argument with you regarding cops. You hate them all. Message received. You are here to protect all would-be criminals. Good for you.

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Haughton 1 year ago

I have been a poster for a few days, and all of a sudden I am the village idiot? I can see why you don't and never will have alot of support to your version of any argument. I will be sure to let the moderators know of your lone ability to dictate and dominate all conversations. You are not following any of the terms of the user agreement to this site. Good day, sir.

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FordGalaxy 1 year ago

Understood on the typo. I fat-finger a lot of typing myself and rarely re-read what I've written for errors.


It's my understanding that if an officer is involved in a shooting, there is typically a lengthy investigation to determine fault, reasonableness of response, etc. I also agree that it's shortsighted to accept only one point of view, but I also know that the winner typically writes the history of an event. If five people witnessed this event, you'd probably get five rather different recountings of what actually happened.


I would imagine the store has some sort of security video, as well. The way I interpreted the account of the store, this guy had come in several times and had been suspected of shoplifting, though not proven to be a shoplifter until this point.

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pcjohn 1 year ago

Thanks Galaxy (I drive an LTD). That's my point - there are many sides to an event like this, not just what the police disseminate. I think it is irrational that some folks take as gospel the word of the cops when the cops have a vested interest in making themselves look good (and they usually are good). I know the Dollar General in my neighborhood has cameras near the register. I hope that the one in this story does also. When it is released in its entirety, all will probably be made clear (assuming the police reveal it, which can be a problem).

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FordGalaxy 1 year ago

I can understand your apprehension, and I certainly would not fault you for it. I just don't presuppose good or ill intentions from anyone, police or not. I doubt very seriously that this officer would've just brazenly shot the suspect in full view of witnesses and cameras, but if proven wrong I'll own up to being wrong. I have no trouble believing that the suspect was beligerent and the officer was truly not expecting it. Just look at some of the comments on this article. Other readers seem to assume that the suspect would've been slow or weak simply because he of his age. That's not an assumption i'm willing to make. For that reason, I'll err on the side of caution until I hear a contradictory but truthful report than anything untoward happened in this encounter.

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pcjohn 1 year ago

A sensible attitude. More info is needed. Let's hope we get it

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DonPedro_SanGomez_de_Martinez 1 year ago

I do not care if he stole a frozen pizza or the Mona Lisa, I have no sympathy for those that run from or struggle with the police. They put themselves, the officer, and innocent people in peril.

I just hope the dog is okay.

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pcjohn 1 year ago

The dogs OK. He's on leave.

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RiggaTony 1 year ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

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Why_not 1 year ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

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tressag5 1 year ago

Then, “in an instant it seems,” the officer said the suspect snatched the Taser from the officer.

What? Was this a 60 year old homeless ninja?

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pcjohn 1 year ago

I guess the cop thought so. Maybe he didn't have his heroism donut that morning.

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FordGalaxy 1 year ago

So you assume that a 60-year-old man is in bad health or slow just because of his age?

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MichelleCouch 1 year ago

My heart breaks over this situation. It is tragic in every aspect. Apparently the shoplifter has a history at this store, but it didn't seem to be one of a violent nature (based on what is reported in this article), until this confrontation. Very sad.

I'm not condoning the theft; I'm not. But it's not like he was stealing stereos or x-boxes. It was a pizza. A situation gone horribly a wry over a stupid stolen pizza....

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Haughton 1 year ago

Kids are killing each other over athletic shoes.

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daveparts 1 year ago

Kids aren't law enforcement, these people are supposed to protect citizens not kill them over a $4.00 pizza.

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MichelleCouch 1 year ago

"Richardson had "no known address," Hedley said. Gwinnett County jail records showed no previous criminal record, as did a Georgia Department of Corrections search."

"Just before 2 p.m. Monday at the store at 5279 Lawrenceville Highway, Richardson reportedly put the frozen pizza under his shirt and was caught by employees. A responding officer asked employees if they wanted to prosecute and they said they did because they were "tired of him coming in multiple times," Hedley said."

So this violent shoplifter who was shot in the face and the chest had no prior criminal record, and the Family Dollar staff were simply just "tired of him coming in multiple times".

This just doesn't sit right with me. Did the officer really have to shoot him twice to subdue him? I think that is a perfectly legitimate question. How much force is enough and how much force is too much? Perhaps this man just reacted reflexively at being tased or hurt. Do you know how you would react at the possibility of being tased?

I don't mean to demean the officer - I really don't. I know what they face everyday. But what about aiming for the shoulder to disable the "tasing or shooting arm", or taking out the ankle to bring a suspect to their knees". Based on circumstances, do they always have to shoot to kill?

Over a pizza? Like the article said, shoplifters don't even usually go to jail..

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Haughton 1 year ago

(Attempted) suicide by cop? Highly possible that the suspect was mentally ill.

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BravesFan2013 1 year ago

This is a sad event...With that said...you have to look at it from both sides. First you have a person committing a crime, regardless of what he is doing it is still a crime. The person was confronted and was going to be arrested. If the person was trying to steal food then maybe jail would be a good place for him, since he would get three meals a day. However, the suspect did not want to get arrested and put up a fight.

The Officer's side of the incident was probably to send the suspect on his way based on the nature of the crime. But the store decided that this time they wanted to press charges. The officer confronted the male and told him he was going to be arrested. I am sure that when the suspect was told this he put up a fight to not be put in handcuffs. I am sure the officer was within a few feet from the suspect and this caused the situation to be a close combat altercation. The city issued taser is not ideal for this situation. The officer was trying to use it but had it taken away in the struggle. If the suspect used the taser against the officer he could gain control for several minutes, aslong as the trigger is held down. I believe someone already explained that the duty weapon could have been grabbed and possibly used on the officer or another person that could have tried to help. A taser would work great but from a distance. I am sure this whole incident happened within seconds. People are talking about shooting to disable and that is ridiculous. In a heated situation, you are not thinking about shooting in a shoulder or ankle...if you have to shoot someone you are trying to stop the threat, which probably indicated two shots in this incident. You can't bring up that the guy was in his 60's because I know several older people that can give younger guys a run for their money in fighting. You have to look at each incident as it's own.

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Motor76 1 year ago

+1 BravesFan...Better a dead scumbag than a dead officer. I'm not sure about the people on here who automatically take the side of the shoplifting, violent, obstructor over the veteran peace officer,bless his heart.

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Haughton 1 year ago

Be careful as I have only been on this site a matter of days and pcjohn has already labeled me the village idiot for valid counterpoint to his arguments. Good luck to you, sir.

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pcjohn 1 year ago

Oh Haughty Haughton, you're such a baby. By the way, those counterpoints of yours are valid in your eyes and not mine. Someday you might learn the art of disputation.

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KKhan 11 months, 2 weeks ago

A black man get arrested for stealing 50 cents candy. 60 years (he must be black) get killed for stealing Pizza by racist cop, but no one can arrest racist Lilburn Cops for making false report, No one can arrest them for making false witness? According to ACLU report Gwinnett Sheriff is abusing his power. His wife Judge Carla Brown is responsible for issuing illegal warrant for Hispanic & Blacks. ......Is there anyone who can do something, Is there any one who can stop them.? What kind of law is that? Do these people think they own Gwinnett? Please visit the following site to know more Racist Lilburn Cops and racial profiling in Gwinnett County. http://lilburnbadcops.blogspot.com/

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