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No Charges in Detroit Rite Aid Death

May 25, 2001

DETROIT (AP) _ A security guard and a Rite Aid employee will not face charges in their deadly scuffle with an accused shoplifter because the woman strongly resisted the arrest, prosecutors said Friday.

Alwanda Gail Person-Jackson escaped from handcuffs and tackled a security guard before she was hogtied and someone sat on her back, the government said.

``It was a fairly forceful, if not violent, struggle,″ said Douglas Baker of the prosecutor’s office.

A medical examiner has called Person-Jackson’s April 6 death a homicide.

Police said the 36-year-old was trying to leave the Detroit drugstore with $200 worth of merchandise. She was dragged inside and handcuffed with plastic restraints but broke free. A witness said a worker then sat on Person-Jackson until she went limp.

Baker wrote in a memo that Person-Jackson had three chances to give up her struggle before she was hog-tied.

Dr. Sawait Kanluen, Wayne County’s chief medical examiner, said Person-Jackson had taken cocaine and about a half-dozen other drugs, which may have contributed to her death.

Prosecutor Michael Duggan said his office investigated the case for a month.

``There’s no basis for bringing criminal action against anyone,″ he said.

``Store owners have the right to detain shoplifters,″ but, he added, ``I’m appalled at how little training security guards get in terms of restraint training.″

Person-Jackson was the third suspected shoplifter in 10 months to die in the Detroit area after scuffles with security guards. Her death sparked protests, and her family sued Rite Aid for $1 billion.

Family attorney Geoffrey Fieger planned no comment before an afternoon news conference, according to a woman who answered the phone at his law office.

Since the deaths, at least two state lawmakers are pushing minimum training standards for Michigan’s 22,000 private security guards.

Rite Aid Corp., based in Camp Hill, Pa., has said that it is cooperating with police and conducting its own investigation of Person-Jackson’s death.


On the Net:

Rite-Aid: http://www.riteaid.com

Medical examiner’s office: http://www.waynecounty.com/medexam/main.htm

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