About a month ago, a Wisconsin high school student was shopping at a convenience store in West Allis when he was confronted by three other customers who eventually detained him for the police. The student, 16, was accused of stealing bottles of alcohol by placing them inside his backpack. The teenager resisted the customers, and a scuffle ensued — an incident that may have resulted in a wrongful death of the student. The customers were taken in for police questioning.
Police officers responding to the shoplifting call did not expect to see the assailant being restrained by three other customers. Initially, they began to arrest the teen. Officers then saw that he had stopped breathing, so they removed the handcuffs and began CPR procedures. The teenager was temporarily revived, but died about two weeks later in the hospital while on life support. The official cause of death has not been released.
A shopkeeper that believes a person to be shoplifting inside the store has a privilege to detain the suspect, using reasonable force, until police may be called. The general right to make a citizen’s arrest does not give a person the right to use deadly force to detain a suspect.
When a person dies due to the negligent actions of another, the family may be entitled to compensation for damages. These damages typically include medical bills, funeral costs, and lost income or earning potential. Where death occurs after the injury, there may also be compensation for the deceased’s pain and suffering.
Source: Pioneer Press, “Wisconsin: Shoplifting suspect, 16, dies after being restrained outside store,” Dave Umhoefer and Bruce Vielmetti, Jan. 4, 2013