An employee of the Springfield, Oregon, Police Department is being asked to apologize for tackling and injuring a Market of Choice employee during a shoplifting incident last year. Springfield community service officer TJ Walsh was off duty on Nov. 16, 2017 and in the Market of Choice near 29th Avenue and Willamette Street when a man and a woman stole $70 worth of merchandise from the store, according to a letter from Andy Lewis, an attorney for Market of Choice. The letter also included a DVD of the store’s surveillance footage of the incident.
Darrin Allen, a store loss prevention specialist, and a co-worker caught the shoplifters outside the store, the letter said. As Allen and the co-worker began escorting the shoplifters back in the store, the man started to struggle with Allen, the letter said. At that point, Walsh intervened, grabbed Allen in a bear hug and “violently” slammed Allen to the ground while the suspect and his female accomplice ran away, according to the letter.
One of Allen’s coworkers shouted to Walsh that he had “body-slammed the wrong guy,” so Walsh got up and chased the other man, “eventually tackling the suspect into a customer’s parked car and damaging the car.” The letter claims Walsh left the scene without identifying himself after police took the shoplifting couple into custody. Allen told The Register-Guard that he sought treatment from an urgent care facility the day after the incident. He was diagnosed with a thoracic sprain in his back. Allen endured 10 weeks of “intensive physical therapy,” and still suffers from migraines and back pain, the letter from Lewis claims. “It’s gotten much better, ” Allen said about his back.
Allen praised Market of Choice for supporting him and allowing him to work light duty during his recovery. Walsh has since been banned from Market of Choice. Eugene police conducted an assault investigation, but no charges have been filed. Walsh declined comment, but Springfield Police Lt. Scott McKee said Walsh talked to him the day after the incident.“TJ felt like he was coming to help,” McKee said. “He feels terrible that this guy was hurt, and felt bad that he hit the wrong guy during the course of that situation, but he doesn’t feel like he’s being treated fairly. They initiated a criminal investigation against him for criminal assault. He’s been trespassed from that store, and he was acting with good intentions. He made a mistake in hitting the wrong guy.” [Source: The Register-Guard]