Everyone has the right to protect themselves from danger whether its fleeing or, when necessary, fighting. At a Wal-Mart store in Utah employees faced this very decision. A shoplifter was confronted after taking a laptop and was instructed to go to the asset protection office. In the office the man was told to relinquish the stolen items and to have a seat.
The man complied with the first request and pulled out the laptop but he also pulled out a handgun as well. With the gun in hand he told the employees to let him go and charged for the exit. However instead of leaving upon reaching the door the gunman put his gun into the back of an employee and said “don’t make me do this.” With nowhere else to go the other employees took action and acted to disarm him. Once he was successfully disarmed the employees then restrained him by force and placed the gun in the opposite side of the room far out of reach of the assailant.
A week after this incident Wal-Mart brought in corporate consultants who fired these employees for not being able to follow company policy. The policy in question was Wal-Mart’s AP-09 policy, which instructs employee’s to only use reasonable force when encountering shoplifters and to disengage when confronted with a weapon. Wal-Mart claims the employees were let go because they potentially endangered the lives of other associates and customers.
In response the employee’s have filed suit against Wal-Mart claiming that their rights to self-defense have been infringed upon by the AP-09 policy. The plaintiffs, one who worked for Wal-Mart more than twelve years, said they felt betrayed and “thrown away”.
The employees state that they acted not only with their own interests in mind but in the interests of everyone’s safety at the store. The time of the incident was around 5 p.m., that location’s busiest time, had the employee’s not acted in the manner they did a convicted felon armed with a loaded weapon could have come running out of the office and attacked innocent bystanders.
One plaintiff expressed the potential danger of a member of the public becoming involved with assisting the store personnel in detaining a fleeing armed shoplifter; Stating that many customer’s to their store feel a loyalty. A police officer commented on the staff’s ability to disarm the gunman and how his life was saved; explaining that an armed felon attempting to avoid the police could easily have engaged in a gunfight when the police arrived on the scene.
With police supporting the actions of the employees and federal law allowing for self-defense this could turn out to be an important legal case, which could decide whether or not it is legal for a private business to have a policy that restricts an individuals right to protect their life.
A full article can be found here: Walmart Employees Fired For Stopping Armed Robber
Our law firm does not represent anybody in this incident. The commentary is for educational purposes only. If you or someone you know has been injured at work or would like to speak to someone about your rights, contact our lawyers for a free confidential case review and receive a response within hours. Call Toll Free 866-414-0400.