Wal-Mart parking lots could be one of the most dangerous places in America. Not only are people abducted, raped, murdered and robbed in these huge parking areas — but Wal-Mart seems to be uniquely plagued by alleged shoplifters who die while in the hands of Wal-Mart ‘loss prevention’ workers. Sprawl-Busters has reported on several such deaths — from America to China — in which suspected shoplifters died under provocative circumstances. These headlines do not seem to happen in the parking lot of Nordstrom’s or Macy’s — or even Target — unless the media is just missing them. The latest death of a suspected Wal-Mart shoplifter happened in Dunwoody, Georgia, outside of Wal-Mart superstore # 2360. Police there are investigating the case of Marty Bridges, who has been identified as being 48 in one story, and 38 in another. What is known is that Bridges was fleeing a Wal-Mart store when security staff working for Wal-Mart grabbed him, and a fight broke out. By the time the Dunwoody police arrived on the scene, Bridges was on the ground, and bystanders were trying to give him CPR. The suspect was taken to nearby Northside hospital, where he was officially pronounced dead. The Dunwoody police told the Atlanta Journal Constitution newspaper that the unspecified items Bridges was accused of stealing were less than $300 in value, and would have resulted in a misdemeanor charge. The Dunwoody police also told the media that in their opinion it did not appear as if undue force had been used on Bridges. “It was basically a big pile-up,” a police spokesman told the newspaper. “They had him pinned on the ground to keep him from running.” None of the media reports of this incident indicate what items Bridges was allegedly stealing — but Wal-Mart employees were unable to recover the item, or items, according to the police. Either Bridges had nothing on him, or the merchandise stolen was dropped or not located. Instead of dealing with a charge of a misdemeanor in court, Bridges’ family will now be planning a funeral.
An autopsy is being done on Marty Bridges to see how he died in that Wal-Mart parking lot. He apparently lost consciousness while trying to flee the store. According to one report, store officials had contacted the police saying that a man had been seen stuffing his shirt with store items. Yet as he lay dying in the parking lot, no items were found on his person. Bridges was described as a “heavyset” man. Dunwoody police suggested to the Associated Press that Bridges might have been fleeing because of an outstanding warrant or some undisclosed charges against him. Although Wal-Mart tells its employees not to physically engage alleged shoplifters, the people who have died all had one thing in common: they were wrestling with Wal-Mart security guards when they died. Instead of letting the local police pursue the suspected shoplifters, Wal-Mart loss prevention workers attempt to apprehend the suspect, which raises the odds that a loss of life will occur, not just a loss of a few dollars in merchandise. The giant retailer does not seem to have in place any plan to change its procedures in light of several deaths on its property. The company usually issues a statement expressing its sadness over the loss of life — but the “wrestle-to-the-ground” method seems to still be the unofficial policy at Wal-Mart. Readers are urged to call Wal-Mart superstore # 2360 at (770) 395-0199 and leave this message for the manager: “I hope that the death of Marty Bridges will result in your employees being instructed not to try to physically apprehend shoplifters. It is up to the Dunwoody police to apprehend people Wal-Mart accuses of shoplifting. Your current store policy has resulted in a death — regardless of where you assign blame — a man has died over a very small amount of Wal-Mart merchandise. Keep your hands off the customer, because when you physically restrain the public, you become judge, jury and executioner in just a matter of minutes.”