EXCLUSIVE: Attempted shoplifting at Times leads to brawl

EXCLUSIVE: Times brawl
Published: Nov. 19, 2013 at 3:38 AM HST|Updated: Nov. 19, 2013 at 10:52 AM HST
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Kristy Watters
Kristy Watters
Myles Breiner
Myles Breiner
Thomas Aiu (in white shirt)
Thomas Aiu (in white shirt)

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Was it the act of a Good Samaritan or it a case of excessive force?

A man suspected of stealing cans of corned beef and instant coffee wound up in a customer's choke hold at the Kaneohe Times Supermarket the day before Halloween.

Kristy Watters, who shot a video of the incident with her cell phone, said the theft suspect was bloodied and screaming for help as a larger man held him around the neck for more than three minutes.

"The guy in the white shirt came out of nowhere and wrapped his arm around his neck and slammed him to the ground and did the same thing ... several times," said Watters.

Times said the man who held the suspect doesn't work for the company but is an off-duty security guard.

Experts contacted by Hawaii News Now gave differing opinions as to whether such restraints are proper.

Hawaii's law on citizens arrest says the amount of force that a person can use cannot exceed the amount of force used by the suspect.

Attorney Myles Breiner said the off-duty security guard's conduct went over the line.

He said the store and customer appear to be unlawfully detaining the suspect, which is a felony.

"At no time was (the suspect) striking the person, who was holding him. He was pleading to be released," Breiner said.

But law enforcement expert Thomas Aiu said the man doing the restraining is careful not to strike the man.

Aiu said it's better to allow the police to handle these kinds of cases since a suspect could be holding a weapon didn't think excessive force was used.

The theft suspect looked like "he's trying to get away ... and is not allowing himself to be subdued," said Aiu.

"In this case, he's acting as a Good Samaritan on behalf of the store and the store is not refusing his help. It's clear the store wants the individual detained," Aiu said.

Police eventually showed up and the off-duty guard walked away from the incident.

Times said the alleged shoplifter was later arrested for trespassing.

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