Authorities ID dead Walmart shoplifting suspect
Wednesday, June 6, 2012
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Jose Marcos Picazo called his father and told him he was going shopping for clothes at Walmart and planned to see him the next day for lunch.
Several hours later, Picazo, accused of shoplifting, was dead after authorities said he fought with store security workers who detained him in a parking lot.
Questions remained for Picazo’s family four days after his death, including whether the actions taken by store security were appropriate.
“He didn’t have any reason to steal. He had the money,” Picazo’s mother, Rosa Picazo, told the Associated Press on Tuesday. “It doesn’t make any sense.”
Sheriff’s investigators said Picazo, 41, of Azusa was seen leaving the store in Covina mid-day Friday without paying for clothing, body wash and other items in a shopping cart.
As store employees with the loss prevention unit detained Picazo for petty theft, he began to fight with them, said Lt. Holly Francisco of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, which is handling the investigation.
When Covina police arrived, Picazo was being restrained by loss prevention officers and appeared to be in medical distress, authorities said. Police called paramedics and Picazo died later at a hospital.
An autopsy to determine his cause of death is pending.
Three Walmart employees were suspended with pay pending the outcome of the sheriff’s investigation, said Wal-Mart Stores spokeswoman Dianna Gee. Their names were not released.
Members of the store’s loss prevention team are unarmed, and the company has an outside security company to provide assistance at some stores, including Covina, Gee said.
Gee said Walmart will make sure its policies and procedures were followed, she said.
“Associates are trained to disengage from situations that would put themselves or others at risk,” Gee said. “That being said, this is an active investigation and we are working with law enforcement and providing them information.”
Francisco said there were witnesses, and investigators plan to look at any surveillance video taken from inside or outside the store.
Rosa Picazo said her son wasn’t violent or aggressive. He has struggled with alcohol and drugs but was clean and sober and was renting a room in a nearby city.
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