About 20 shoppers were pepper sprayed at a Los Angeles Wal-Mart on Thursday night. There were children among those that sustained minor injuries.
The alleged Los Angeles injury incident took place not long after store doors opened for the Black Friday sale. A crowd reportedly gathered as employees started to unwrap a crate of Xbox video game players and that is when the woman is accused of spraying the other shoppers.
While some people have speculated that she used pepper spray in order to disable them so that she could get the items she wanted, the LAPD has said there is a possibility that the woman acted in self-defense. They were, however, careful to note that even if this were the case this doesn't mean that her actions were "right."
Surveillance video and footage posted on YouTube are being examined, and more than a dozen witnesses have been interviewed about the events at the Wal-Mart that evening. LAPD Det. Mike Fesperman says there appears to have been a "mob mentality," and on the audio of some of the video that was recorded people can be heard complaining about being "trampled" and "crushed."
It is not known at this time whether criminal charges will be filed against the woman. A lot of this will depend on whether her intentions were to cause injury or if she acted to protect herself.
Black Friday has become a chaotic event for many stores, with hundreds of people lining up in advance as early as Thanksgiving Day in order to avail of the huge discounts offered. Some stores are even beginning their Black Friday events as early as Thursday night.
The owners of stores know that injuries can result with so many people charging into their buildings in an attempt to get at products on sale before they run out. It is these owners' responsibility to make sure there is a system in place to minimize the chance of Los Angeles personal injury or wrongful death during such events. This includes making sure displays are arranged in a safe manner so that falling merchandise doesn't end up striking shoppers, as well as providing adequate security to deter people from getting violent or committing robberies or other crimes.
In other Black Friday news involving Wal-Mart, a shopper was shot outside a Wal-Mart in San Leandro, California after he and his relatives tried to fend off two armed robbers. The victim is expected to recover from his injuries. Other injury incident reportedly occurred at several other Wal-Marts in other states. (It was just three years ago that a temporary Wal-Mart worker died in New York after shoppers trampled him.)
Stores can be held liable for Los Angeles premises liability if there are hazardous conditions on the property that could/should have been remedied.
Black Friday arrests, injuries irk shoppers at Walmart, USA Today, November 25, 2011
Wal-Mart pepper-spraying might have been self-defense, LAPD says, Los Angeles Times, November 28, 2011
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