A private security guard employed by a Whole Foods grocery store in Oakland, California was fired after allegedly beating a man until he was lying in a pool of his own blood.
Eyewitness Zoe Marks posted a graphic photograph of the unidentified man on social media, writing that she saw the young Black man being “violently assaulted by an armed security guard at Whole Foods — slammed repeatedly against concrete pillars, put in a chokehold, restrained and suffocated until he was thrown face down on the pavement unconscious,” on Thursday night.
Marks, who wrote that the man was attempting to buy groceries with an EBT card, told the Oakland Tribune the victim engaged in a verbal argument with a cashier, but did not appear violent or threatening.
“He wasn’t shouting at anyone. He wasn’t violent or disruptive,” Marks said of the customer. “There was no threat from him to any of the customers or employees. (We) felt safe until the security guard attacked him.”
“No one called for help. They called for backup,” she said of store employees by phone on Friday. “They were treating him as a threat as he lay unconscious in his own blood.”
In an effort to get a response from Whole Foods, Marks tweeted directly to the organic market, asking them to address the disturbing incident.
Whole Foods spokeswoman Beth Krauss said the company is investigating. Krauss also told the San Francisco Chronicle that the victim made physical contact with a team member, which likely prompted the physical altercation. The guard and the firm that employed him have reportedly been terminated by the grocery chain.
The unidentified man is said to be in stable condition, according to CNN.
The altercation adds fuel to the ongoing conversation about police brutality and the power of private security guards, who are often times off-duty police officers. According to ThinkProgress, private security guards outnumber police officers 5 to 1 — a staggering figure given many of these guards do not receive proper training and are therefore likely to abuse their power.