NORTH MIAMI BEACH, Fla. — When a customer at the Walmart store here argued with cops after mistakenly leaving a $4 item at the bottom of his cart, the cops “settled” the dispute by stunning the man with a Taser, Sept. 3.
Cops fired the weapon three times before taking the older man away. Paramedics cleaned up blood and piles of copper wire on the floor from the Taser firing. Managers surrounded the area to keep customers and workers from trying to find out what had happened.
Tasers incapacitate people by hitting them with up to 50,000-volts of electric shock. More than 1,000 people have died after cops stunned them with Tasers, said a 2017 Reuters report.
Over the next days the incident was the subject of a wide-ranging discussion by many of the store’s workers.
“There were hundreds of people crowded in the area during that time,” said a cashier. “How could they shoot an unarmed, disabled man? They certainly didn’t make me feel safer!”
“The treatment that customer received was outrageous,” another store worker said. Others nodded in agreement. “They almost never arrest people for small amounts. They usually wait until someone steals several hundred dollars so they can get them arrested on felony charges. For small amounts both the company and the cops figure it’s not worth their time.”
A worker who came to Florida from Cuba said, “This would never have happened in my country! How do they justify this violence against an old person? I heard people say that it was because he was too angry — so now it’s a crime to be angry with Walmart? The whole mess was unnecessary — from the queues to shortages to harassment by the cops to the managers’ attitude.”
The incident occurred as retail stores throughout South Florida were filled with working people desperate to stock up on packaged food, bottled water, batteries and fuel as Hurricane Dorian approached. At this store truckloads of bottled water were being offloaded as soon as they arrived — even then those aisles seemed to be empty. Uniformed police joined the regular complement of security guards, and additional police were called into the store in response to calls from store management.
Another store worker told this reporter, “The managers feel like they can do anything here no matter how wrong or stupid it is. We have to start standing up to it and work to get a union in here to defend us.”