Wrongly accused shoplifter sues Meijer, officer who beat him
DETROIT (WJBK) - As police hold a presser Monday to explain what happened, a lawsuit is being filed on behalf of a man accused of shoplifting then beaten by an off-duty Detroit officer working security at Meijer.
Fieger Law is filing a suit in Wayne County on behalf of 23-year-old David Bivins and his girlfriend Hillary Ross after an incident around 9 p.m. Oct. 8 at a Meijer store on 8 Mile near Woodward in Detroit.
Captured on both cell phone and surveillance video, off-duty police officer Lonnie Wade was working a second job as security for the store and accused Bivins of shoplifting, then an altercation ensued. You can watch what happened in the videos above.
The chief says the investigation is still in the beginning stages but there was no evidence of retail fraud. The suspect was arrested for disorderly conduct, and resisting and obstruction. He was released from jail after the Wayne County prosecutor's office rejected a warrant of resisting and obstructing. Bivins is still charged with disorderly conduct.
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Around 1:45 p.m. Monday, police gave an update on the situation - while emphasizing the update does not represent a conclusion.
The chief says Bivins and his girlfriend entered the store with several shopping bags, making the Wade suspicious. When the officer decided to detain the two, the woman became upset. Holding receipts in her hand, she explained they wanted refunds for items they were returning. He says Bivins was moving items from bag to bag to get organized.
Craig explained that in their work with Meijer, it is not up to the Detroit police officer working a second job there to initiate contact with someone as it relates to a potential threat. He emphasized that it was the officer's decision to detain - not Meijer security's.
"What should've happened is the officer should have waited for security to say we believe that that person engaged in retail fraud and then detained," Craig said. "That didn't happen. It was solely the officer's decision."
He added that the officer made no attempt to de-escalate the situation.
The officer in question is currently on administrative duty with Detroit police but suspended from secondary employment until the investigation is complete. He will not be sent into the field. Meijer is one of several companies that have contracts with Detroit police that allow officers to work second jobs.
When asked of about Fieger's lawsuit, Craig says he was not aware of it.
"I understood from news reports that the subject had retained Fieger but I did not know that a lawsuit had been filed today," he said.
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Craig says the investigation is being reviewed by the prosecutor to make a determination if excessive force was used. They are asking Bivins not be charged with disorderly conduct or resisting/obstructing.
The suit is against Meijer, Officer Wade, and four other security guards. They are not seeking a specific amount in the lawsuit but instead jurisdictional threshold.
You can watch the full press conference on FOX 2 News Now below: