HOUSTON — A man who says he was just trying to return an item to Walmart blames theft prevention officers there for destroying his life.
“It’s totally destroyed my quality of life,” said Michael Baillio, who was injured during an altercation at a Walmart in Humble in February of 2010.
That day, Baillio and his wife had gone to Walmart to return some motor oil and pick up some other goods. Surveillance video shows the couple at the checkout counter with containers of motor oil already in their shopping cart. Baillio said he had forgotten about the oil and the cashier failed to notice it.
Theft prevention officers approached the pair as they turned to leave.
“They told us we were under suspicion of shoplifting," he said. "I couldn’t believe it."
Next on the video, the couple is seen in the theft prevention room talking to the officers. Then one of the men flipped Baillio over his back and onto the ground. Baillio said he was forced to lie face down with a knee in his back for close to 20 minutes.
After police removed him from the room, the theft prevention officers are seen on the video shaking hands and apparently congratulating one another.
Baillio suffered a broken shoulder and a torn rotator cuff. As a result of the injury, he said he can no longer lift anything heavier than 10 pounds.
Prosecutors dismissed the shoplifting charge. Attorney Jason Gibson has filed a civil lawsuit against Walmart.
“They have policies and procedures in place that are supposed to prevent this,” Gibson said. “They think that what this man did was right. They think that a violation of their policies and procedures is no big deal.”
The civil case will head to court next week.
Walmart released the following statement:
“Mr. Baillio was asked to come back inside our store after being stopped for suspected shoplifting. Upon returning, he became verbally and physically aggressive. We regret that Mr. Baillio was uncooperative and the situation escalated to the point of physical contact. We always regard the safety of all of our customers and associates as our top priority.”