Grocery store employees sat on a suspected shoplifter – and he died, NY police say

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A man died in a Brooklyn, NY grocery store after employees at a Stop & Shop allegedly tackled and sat on him when they suspected him of shoplifting, CBS New York reported.

Now a medical examiner is trying to determine what actually caused 51-year-old Ralph Nimmons’ death Saturday morning, according to WABC. No charges have been filed.

Witnesses described the surreal scene to multiple news outlets: three employees pinning a man to the ground in the middle of a New York City grocery store. Nimmons had been spotted attempting to take a cake box, staffers told the New York Daily News, after which they restrained him.

“They were on top of him,” one customer named Antwaune Savage told The New York Post. “Literally standing on top of him. Stepping on him to hold him down.”

“He was just saying, ‘let me go, let me go, let me go” a witness told CBS New York. “But then when he was on the ground, he said that he couldn’t breathe and he had a heart problem.”

One bystander named Jacene McDonald told WCBS someone even offered to pay for whatever the man was allegedly trying to steal.

“Someone volunteered to pay for his food. She pulled out her money to pay for whatever they said he stole, but they wouldn’t take her money,” McDonald told the station. “It’s like whatever he was stealing – couple dollars – was worth his life?”

When officers arrived they found him unconscious and unresponsive, and emergency workers performed CPR, according to NBC New York. It wasn’t enough – Nimmons was pronounced dead on arrival at Kings County Hospital, the station reported.

Nobody answered at Nimmons’ last known address, according to CBS New York, and witnesses said he was known around the area as a homeless man who went by his nickname “Star,” The New York Daily News reported.

“He was very, very intelligent and bright,” a woman described as a friend of Nimmons told the paper. “He was a ‘star’ person.”

Stop & Shop released a statement saying the company was “saddened” by the death in its store. “Our deepest sympathies go out to the family. We continue to cooperate with law enforcement officials to ensure that the facts pertaining to this incident are fully and accurately determined,” the statement read, as reported by PIX11.

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