HOUSTON - A woman was mistakenly pegged as a shoplifter and violently dragged to a back room at a West Houston CVS store Wednesday afternoon, according to police.
Twenty-four-year-old Alexandria Benton told KHOU 11 News the incident went on for several minutes without the employee identifying himself as a Loss Prevention employee.
"I don't want to be alone with you. He said no you're going in this room and he picked me up and threw me in there," said Benton.
Benton said she was just trying to return batteries at the CVS located at S. Voss Rd near Westheimer, without a receipt. She said a store employee told her it wasn't allowed, so she decided to come back another time.
"When I got outside the door, this gentleman grabbed me and pulled me back inside," said Benton."I asked what was going on. He ripped my stuff out of my hand, my wallet and my bag."
Alexandria managed to hold on to her cell phone that she used to call 911.
Benton's boyfriend Nicholas Hamilton, who was waiting in the car, said he could see someone violently dragging Alexandria to the back of the store, so he ran inside.
"She grabbed her hand out and I didn't think about it. I grabbed her hand and that's when they attacked me," said Hamilton.
Alexandria said other employees also jumped in, and during the scuffle, the man who grabbed her, finally identified himself as a CVS Loss Prevention employee.
"I kept telling him I didn't take anything. You can ask the person at the front and he wouldn't listen to me. He kept saying stop resisting," said Benton.
After reviewing surveillance video, police decided the Loss Prevention Officer, identified as Simon Rutherford, was in the wrong and arrested and charged him with assault.
Benton and Hamilton were free to go, leaving CVS with more than they came for.
"That's the tip of his shoe. I got a burn right there," said Hamilton, as he pointed to his injuries and ripped shirt.
Turns out it wasn't the first time a store employee has roughed up a suspected shoplifter.
A shopper sent cell phone video to KHOU taken a few months back, showing a similar situation. A woman is seen screaming and being dragged to the back of the store then forced into a room. CVS did not provide comment on that incident.
Benson and her boyfriend however said they won't be going back anytime soon.
"Nobody is supposed to put their hands on you like that, maybe a police officer. But I really think he overstepped his boundaries and he hurt two innocent people that weren't trying to do anything wrong," said Benton.
The couple plans to file charges against the store. A CVS spokesperson sent this statement to KHOU 11 News:
CVS/pharmacy has specific policies and procedures for interacting with customers who are suspected of shoplifting that are designed to protect the safety of both our employees and our customers. We are fully investigating the incident that occurred at our Westheimer Road store yesterday afternoon. The employee who was involved in this incident will be suspended pending the outcome of our investigation. -Mike DeAngelis, CVS/Pharmacy Director, Public Relations