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Widow of Walmart shoplifting suspect: "He didn't deserve to die over a DVD player"

A man walks through the parking lot of the Walmart Monday, Nov. 26, 2012, in Lithonia, Ga., where the day before a shoplifting suspect died after a confrontation with store employees. DeKalb County police spokeswoman Mekka Parish said Monday the man had not been identified and police hadn't decided whether to file any charges in the Sunday incident. (AP Photo/David Goldman) David Goldman

A man walks through the parking lot of a Lithonia, Ga. Walmart on Nov. 26, 2012, where a shoplifting suspect died the day before after a confrontation with store employees.
AP Photo/David Goldman

(CBS/AP) ATLANTA - A shoplifting suspect died Sunday after employees of a suburban Atlanta Walmart wrestled him to the ground to subdue him with what the suspect's wife says was too much force.

Vidal Calloway, 37, died after he was tackled in the parking lot of the Lithonia Walmart and put into a choke hold by a security guard as employees held him down and waited on authorities to arrive, according to a police report. Calloway - an ex-convict with a record  including shoplifting, forgery and substance abuse - was accused of stealing two Blue Ray DVD players.

"I don't think that it should've happened," Calloway's wife Fatimah Calloway said. "He didn't deserve to die over a DVD player."

Store manager Michael Burton asked Calloway for a receipt near the door at around 1:30 a.m. Sunday when Calloway ran out of the store, according to the police report. Burton grabbed Calloway and slammed him down to the ground, but Calloway fought back and punched Burton in the face, neck and chest.

Jaiviere Pruitt, a security guard, rushed Calloway and the three men fell to the ground. Pruitt put Calloway into a headlock because he was still fighting. He "told the suspect to tap when he can't breathe," store employee Phille Roberts told police. Roberts also helped hold Calloway down.

Emergency medics tried to treat Calloway, but he was unresponsive. He was later pronounced dead at a hospital. Detectives were awaiting autopsy results to determine the exact cause of Calloway's death.

Burton and Roberts was suspended with pay and Pruitt, a contractor working security with the store, will no longer work there, according to Bentonville, Ark.,-based Wal-Mart Inc.

"Associates are trained to disengage from situations that would put themselves or others at risk," Wal-Mart Inc. spokeswoman Dianna Gee said. "That being said, this is still an active investigation and we're working with police to provide any assistance."

  • Crimesider Staff

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