Fatimah Calloway believes Walmart workers used excessive force in subduing her husband early Sunday, when they captured and restrained him after he allegedly stole two DVD players.
“I feel like they killed him,” she said. “I don’t think stealing a DVD player is worth your life,” she told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Monday.
Police say a physical altercation occurred when the two workers and security guard pursued Vidal Calloway as he left the Lithonia Walmart at about 1:30 a.m. Sunday. According to the initial police report, they restrained him by using a choke hold and placing themselves on top of him.
Police identified the workers as store co-manager Michael Burton, 38, and employee Phille Roberts, 21. The security guard, who police say applied the choke hold, was Jaiviere Pruitt, 30, who works for U.S. Security Associates.
A voice message at a phone number listed as Pruitt’s was not returned Monday. Contact information for Burton and Roberts was not immediately available.
Police said they will not proceed further until an autopsy determines the cause of death. The autopsy was pending Monday.
According to the police report, when officers arrived at the scene, they found the employees on top of Calloway, 37. The workers told police he was still resisting them. But when the officer placed handcuffs on Calloway, the officer did not notice any resistance. Instructing the workers to get off of Calloway, the officer found him to be unresponsive and bleeding from the mouth and nose, the report says.
Calloway was transported to the hospital where he was pronounced dead.
Fatimah Calloway said she confirmed that the victim was her estranged husband by calling the medical examiner and describing her husband’s tattoos.
“I can’t believe it,” she said.
Calloway said her husband struggled with substance abuse but had been in rehab. He was in between jobs. The spouses, who have three daughters, have been estranged for some time, she said.
“When they said he stole the DVD player, I wouldn’t put it past him,” she said.
Public records show Calloway has a history of charges for substance abuse, theft, shoplifting and forgery in Fulton and Gwinnett counties.
Walmart spokeswoman Dianna Gee said Burton and Roberts have been suspended without pay pending an internal investigation and Pruitt will no longer work on contract to Walmart.
“Associates are trained to disengage from situations that would put themselves or others at risk,” she said in a prepared statement.
U.S. Security Associates released a statement Monday saying, “U.S. Security Associates is deeply saddened by the tragic incident involving one of our security officers in Georgia, and our prayers are with all those involved. We are conducting a thorough investigation of the incident.”
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