A New Mexico man with schizophrenia died when loss prevention officers forcibly restrained him after they accused him of shoplifting inside a K-Mart in Albuquerque.
According to witnesses, Jonathan Sorensen repeatedly apologized while he was pinned face-down on the ground by two loss prevention employees.
A third soon joined in and they all sat on top of him, according to witnesses.
However, one of those witnesses who began recording the aftermath was ordered out of the store by employees.
Then an Albuquerque police officer ordered her away instead of taking a statement from her.
The incident took place on May 2 when police told local media that “the suspect suffered a medical episode while loss prevention workers were attempting to keep him from fleeing.”
But they obviously were basing their statements from the loss prevention officers who killed him rather than the eye witness who began recording in the aftermath of the incident.
The female witness was upset after noticing the brutal restraint techniques employees used to hold Sorensen down on the floor before she began recording.
“You guys were on top of him,” she says with her voice trembling.
“He was also resisting the whole time,” said a K-Mart loss prevention employee who’d apparently taken part in killing Sorensen.
“It doesn’t matter. Do you know how to restrain [someone]? That wasn’t a proper restraint. I’m TCI certified.”
The beginning of her cellphone-recorded video shows paramedics attempting CPR on Sorenson when a female K-Mart employee walks up and says, “ma’am, you can’t be here recording.”
“Because . . . because you can’t.”
Employees apparently begin to realize video footage of the incident isn’t going to bode well for them and repeatedly insist that she stop recording and leave the scene of the crime, where employees had just taken a man’s life over stolen, K-Mart merchandise.
The woman recording then voices concern that the man has not regained consciousness.
“Yeah, but he…,” the woman pointed down an isle as she cut off her sentence when she presumably realized she was about to imply he died because he shoplifted.
“What are you going to do?” the concerned woman asked.
“Because you, you need to leave,” the annoyed employee evaded the question.
Employees then threaten to have the woman escorted out.
“Then escort me out.”
The woman then calls them out, for their brutal handling of Sorensen.
“He’s unresponsive, right?”
I knew it,” she said angrily. “You guys were suffocating him.”
The woman and her friend continue to repeat to emergency personnel that it had been more than five minutes since the man had stopped breathing when the male loss prevention officer approached her, pointing his finger, again, asking her to leave and stop recording.
The cop then walks over to her and orders her to leave.
The case is now being investigated as a homicide, although no arrests have been made.
“Ma’am, I need you to go.”
“Why? I saw everything. Do you work here?
“I’m loss prevention,” said the man in a self-important tone.
“I need you to go.”
The unidentified woman and her friend refused to leave, even when a cop approached her and began to assist employees in attempting to cover up incriminating evidence at the scene, shielding it from video cameras.
He also asks the woman to stop recording.
“Hello guys,” said condescending cop. “So, so, so… If you don’t mind, if you could definitely just hang out over here, I would appreciate it. To keep things calm and all that kind of stuff. If you could just try not to record, I’d appreciate it.”
The woman’s friend interjects and turns attention back to the fact Sorensen had been unresponsive and breathless for a substantial amount of time, “It’s been more than five minutes.”
“About how long,” the cop nonchalantly asked.
“About twenty minutes.”
“OK, if you guys could just wait right there.”
Sorensen was never revived.
Friends of Sorensen held a vigil on May 13. Devastated by his death, they say it should have been obvious to K-Mart that he was mentally ill.
Sorensen was diagnosed with schizophrenia when he was a junior at the University of New Mexico.
People close to Sorensen say schizophrenia was the only medical issue he was known to have. However, according to krqe.com, police said Sorensen died of a medical episode during the same time he was being restrained.
George Anthony Bleus, an attorney for the Sorensen family stated the victim didn’t have any medical issues and would have left K-Mart alive, if loss prevention officers did not try to detain him.
“People’s lives are more valuable than products,” he said. “Loss prevention should never involve loss of life or limb, ever.”
Bleus told the Albuquerque Journal he is waiting on the outcome of the police report to determine if he’ll file a lawsuit against K-Mart and its employees.
In total, four people asked the woman to stop recording during the two-minute clip, including three K-Mart employees and an Albuquerque police officer.