Three Walmart workers in Florida have been charged with manslaughter in the February death of a shoplifter, police said Friday.
They are accused of suffocating Kenneth Wisham, 64, after he tried to steal $380 worth of DVDs in a shopping cart from the Walmart on North Road 98 in Lakeland Feb. 7, Fox 13 Tampa reported.
The station reported that the employees chased Wisham, who fell. They then held him on the ground.
As he was being restrained, Wisham stopped breathing. The employees called 911 and an ambulance took him to the hospital, where he died, the station reported.
Lakeland police said Friday that criminal charges were warranted after the coroner ruled that Wisham died of mechanical asphyxia and that he had suffered 15 broken ribs.
Charged were Nathan Higgins, 35, a support manager, Crucelis Nunez, 23, a customer service manager, and Ruandall Tooko, 58, who works in loss prevention.
They were taken into custody Thursday.
A police affidavit quotes a witness as saying she saw Nunez knock Wisham to the ground and then pummel him with her fists.
Her accound differed from Nunez's.
She told cops that she “nudged” Wisham as it appeared he was about to fall.
According to the affidavit, Nunez also said she heard Wisham say, “Let me go, I didn’t do anything” and later say, “I can’t breathe.”
Walmart suspended the three employees in February as police investigated Wisham's death.