NEW YORK -- A man died Saturday after employees at a Brooklyn Stop & Shop allegedly tried to hold him for allegedly shoplifting "cookies and other items," CBS New York. Police are investigating witness accounts that three store employees saw Ralph Nimmons, 51, attempting to shoplift and held him in the store, occasionally sitting on him.
One witness told the station Nimmons was saying "let me go, let me go."
"He said he couldn't breathe and he had a heart problem," the witness said.
Another customer told the station that a female bystander stepped in and offered to pay.
"She asked, 'What's going on? What happened? He stole something?' He's like, 'I didn't do nothing.' And she pulled out her money to pay for whatever they said he stole, but they wouldn't take her money. So they wrestled him and he didn't want – he wasn't trying to be held, he was trying to get out," said Jacene McDonald.
Police said when officers arrived, they found Nimmons lying on the floor unconscious and unresponsive. Witnesses said emergency responders attempted CPR on Nimmons. He was later pronounced dead.
On Sunday, Stop and Shop issued a statement on the incident:
"We are saddened by the death that occurred at our Flatbush Avenue store on Saturday morning. Our deepest sympathies go out to the family. We continue to cooperate with law enforcement officials to ensure that the facts pertaining to this incident are fully and accurately determined."
The medical examiner is working to determine the cause of Nimmons' death as police continue to investigate whether or not what happened to him constitutes a crime.
Flatbush resident Christina Hutchinson says she often saw Nimmons on the sidewalk of the block where she lives.
"This is insane," she told the station. "There's nothing there that valuable."
No one answered the door at Nimmons' last known address on East 21st Street. On the block, he's well known and described by some as homeless.
"Their intentions weren't to maybe harm him or anything," Flatbush resident Alyssa Colon said. "They guy just wanted some cookies and they tackled him for it."