Walmart sued over ‘SWAT-like’ treatment of mentally disabled woman

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A couple in Michigan has launched a lawsuit against Walmart, claiming their 25-year-old mentally disabled daughter was shocked and terrorized by “SWAT-like” tactics of security officers and police who accused her — wrongfully, it turns out — of shoplifting.

Wendy Kozma said store security and Livonia police permanently scarred Jodi, 25, who has the mental abilities of an 8-year-old, when they escorted her into a security office at the store and accused her of stealing items, the Detroit Free Press reported. The plainclothes Walmart security officials said they questioned the woman after a surveillance camera operator reported seeing her put hair ties in her pocketbook and pants waistband, Raw Story reported.

Jodi’s grandmother, who was in the store with her at the time, tried to show guards the receipt for the hair ties, to prove they were purchased and not stolen. But security guards wouldn’t listen and called outside police from Livonia, the Detroit Free Press reported.

Police then said Jodi was “causing a scene” by screaming and refusing to hold her hands behind her back so she could be handcuffed. So police forcibly cuffed her and put her against the wall, after which she reached out for her grandmother, the newspaper said.

Two officers then “muscled Jodi to the ground,” an incident report read. They also threatened to conduct a body search, despite the fact that Jodi said several times she didn’t steal anything.

Jodi’s mother arrived a short time later and persuaded them to let her openly search her daughter — and that’s when it was determined that the woman hadn’t stolen anything after all, the Detroit Free Press reported.

Jodi’s mother and father, John Kozma, sued both Walmart and Livonia police in Wayne County Circuit Court, alleging their daughter’s civl rights were violated and that officers took an unnecessary “SWAT-like approach” during their investigation. The couple also accuses the store and officers of failing to take into consideration Jodi’s “special needs,” and traumatizing her.

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