Vancouver, WA - A video has been posted to social media which shows a a crowd rushing to the defense of a teenage shoplifter when she was detained after attacking WinCo store employees.
The video (posted below) has over 11 million views since it was posted on July 8, and has prompted a wide range of comments from the media.
The incident occurred on Saturday at the WinCo Foods supermarket at 905 NE 136th Ave in Vancouver.
Loss prevention employees observed a 14-year-old girl steal candy from the store and confronted her about it. Once confronted, the girl attacked the loss prevention employees in an attempt to escape. The attack occurred before the video started.
Washington State law states that using force against a store employee to avoid apprehension for shoplifting transforms the theft into a second-degree robbery, a felony.
There is no law established by the Washington State legislature for citizens arrests, but the legal authority to make a citizens arrest arises from prior court rulings, or case law (NOTE: This is different in each state.)
State case law also allows for store employees to conduct a "citizen's arrest" when they have reasonable grounds to believe that somebody is shoplifting. Case law also allows citizens to arrest others for any felony.
In this incident, the case law is clear: the loss prevention employees had the legal right to make a citizens arrest of the teen, who had committed a felony.
After the video starts, the girl can be seen resisting the loss prevention employees' efforts to detain her. The loss prevention staff only held onto her, while a crowd gathered and accused them of "beating" the girl because she scraped her knee as she dropped herself to the ground.
The crowd continued to heckle the employees for over six minutes, making the violent felon out to be the victim.
When officers arrived, they arrested the teen for robbery in the second degree. She was booked into the Clark County Juvenile Justice Center and will be arraigned on Wednesday, according to The Colombian.
WinCo issued the following statement to KATU:
Thank you so much for contacting us regarding the video that was published on social media. We appreciate the public’s concern over this incident and would like to provide information about what took place, as well as our ongoing investigation.
WinCo Foods began to investigate immediately after the incident took place. While in our store, the individual concealed items and left the store without paying. The individual was then approached by WinCo Foods’ loss prevention employees, who identified themselves as such.
As our employees questioned the individual, she attempted to flee and was detained by WinCo’s loss prevention. At this point, the individual initiated contact by physically attacking multiple employees. All of this occurred immediately before the footage started in the video posted on social media.
WinCo Foods immediately called the Vancouver Police Department, who responded quickly, and subsequently Vancouver Police Department arrested the individual for robbery. The video concludes with the officer arriving onsite.
We understand that the media, our customers, and the general public are interested and concerned about the situation. We are continuing to investigate the situation and cooperating fully with local law enforcement, and are unable to provide any further details at this time.
As we continue our investigation, we want to thank everyone for allowing us a chance to explain the full details of what happened – including key pieces of information not shown in the video. Thank you.
I, for one, appreciate that WinCo has the courage to handle this incident based on facts, and not just fire employees based on the public's reaction.
You can see the video of the incident below: