What are my rights if I was assaulted by a mall security guard for shoplifting?

I was accused of shoplifting. Once mall security was called, I was seated in a private office. The police were called and while waiting for them to arrive, I said that I wanted to call my mom. Both the mall security guard and the store manager said I could not use my phone and that I was going to be handcuffed if I tried. While seated in the chair clutching my phone and my wallet refusing to give both over the male security guard, who was at least 6 foot 1 and 250 lb compared to my 5 foot 8 145 lb female frame, he forcibly pulled me from the chair and slammed me into the ground. I have numerous injuries during the scuffle. The security guard then placed his knee on my back and started to pull my arms behind me. I stated numerous times that I could not breathe and I noticed that his arm was in front of my face, so I bit him in self-defense. I did not break the skin. I have now been charged with assault and battery. However, I feel like I was just defending myself against a security officer that had no reason to pull me from a chair and throw me to the ground. What is my recourse? There is video of this event.

Asked on October 1, 2017 under Personal Injury, Oklahoma


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

Excessive force is never appropriate in such a situation. This constitutes an assault and is legally actionable. What should have been a routine shoplifting detention will in all liklihood turn into a liability for the store. If you file a lawsuit, your attorney will focus on the negligence and misconduct of the security guards rather than on your theft. In fact the petty theft charges may well be dismissed by the District Attorney.

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

A mall security guard has no right to attack you simply because you would not turn over wallet and phone--he can detain you and call the police, but not attack you. What you describe appears to be assault. You can press charges against him for assault: the fact that charges have been filed against you does not prevent you from looking to file charges against him. If you suffered any serious or lasting injuries, or large, out-of-pocket medical costs, you could also sue him for your injuries and costs.

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