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Grandfather injured, arrested in Walmart brawl

By Greg Botelho, CNN
updated 12:34 AM EST, Sat November 26, 2011
An Arizona man lay handcuffed and non-responsive on the floor of a Walmart early on Black Friday.
An Arizona man lay handcuffed and non-responsive on the floor of a Walmart early on Black Friday.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: A witness says the man's head hit the ground "like a bowling ball"
  • Jerald Newman, 54, is charged with resisting arrest and shoplifting
  • His grandson says he tried to hide a video game from jostling shoppers
  • Video shows the man later bloodied and unconscious on a Walmart floor

See local Black Friday coverage from CNN affiliate KNXV in Phoenix.

(CNN) -- An Arizona man lay handcuffed and non-responsive on the floor of a Walmart on Black Friday, as his emotional grandson stood nearby.

Jerald Newman, 54, spent Friday night in a Maricopa County jail hours after being arrested for allegedly resisting arrest and shoplifting, according to the county sheriff's department.

But the suspect's family members, as well as at least one witness, said the man is innocent and that the treatment was unnecessary.

Newman's daughter said that she, her father and other family members were in the packed Buckeye, Arizona, store soon after it opened late Thursday night.

"They were just letting people in; there was nowhere to walk," Berneta Sanchez told CNN. "And teenagers and adults were fighting for these games, taking them away from little kids and away from my father."

The grandson, Nicholas Nava, told CNN affiliate KNXV that Newman had grabbed one video game and put it under his shirt so that others jostling for the game didn't take it from him. One person alerted a police officer, who then approached Newman.

Jerald Newman, 54, spent Friday night in a Maricopa County jail hours after being arrested.
Jerald Newman, 54, spent Friday night in a Maricopa County jail hours after being arrested.

David Chadd, a CNN iReporter from Las Vegas, was among those shopping for video games set up in the Walmart's grocery section in a mass of people. He said Newman "was not resisting" arrest as he was led away from the crowd by a police officer.

The officer, Chadd said, then suddenly hooked the suspect around the leg, grabbed him and "slammed him face first into the ground."

"It was like a bowling ball hitting the ground, that's how bad it was," he said.

That was around when Sanchez said she heard of the altercation from across the store and ran toward her father.

"I was fuming," she recalled upon seeing her father on the floor. "They wouldn't let me near him at all, they were telling me to stay back."

Video, recorded by Chadd and later posted on CNN's iReport, shows an apparently unconscious Newman head-down on the floor in a pool of blood. As he's turned over, Buckeye police officers appear to attempt to revive him -- at which point his face, covered mostly in blood, is revealed.

Several voices, apparently those of fellow shoppers, are heard saying, "Why would you throw him down so hard? All he did was shoplifting and you threw him down like that?" Another person says, "They threw him down. He wasn't doing anything wrong."

Two citizens then appear to come to Newman's aid by applying paper towels to the man's nose. Chadd estimated that Newman was knocked out for about 10 minutes, all the while gushing blood and handcuffed.

Walmart spokeswoman Ashley Hardie said the retail giant was aware of the incident.

"We are concerned whenever there is an incident involving a customer at one of our stores," Hardie said. "We are in contact with the local police and are sharing any information we have with them."

Members of the Buckeye Police Department did not immediately respond to CNN calls Friday for comment. Assistant Chief Larry Hall told KNXV that Newman struggled after getting hurt, saying he was aggressive and escalated the situation.

"There's a whole other side to this story that wasn't videotaped," Hall said. "There is nothing, on the surface, (that) deems our officer acted inappropriate at this time."

The Buckeye incident was one of a few such incidents involving police and shoppers at the chain's stores nationwide.

Sanchez said that Newman was "emotional" when she talked to him, briefly, on Friday from a hospital where he was treated before being sent to jail.

"He was complaining of his pain, and he was angry," she said.

She described her father as "a really nice man," noting he is a custom furniture-maker who preaches through the California prison system. He has raised his grandson from birth and, even while in the hospital, Sanchez said the boy was her father's chief concern.

Family members are hoping for a call from law enforcement, informing them that they can pick up Newman, Sanchez said. Until then, she said her mother plans to talk to a lawyer Saturday to work on expediting the man's release.

Whatever happens, Sanchez vowed that next year she won't be shopping in the wee hours of the Friday morning after Thanksgiving.

"I will never leave my house again on Black Friday, because I don't want to put my daughter through that again," she said, noting her daughter was there to see police standing over her bloody grandfather. "I'd rather stay home. And if they have Black Friday, they need more security."

CNN's Marlena Baldacci and Greg Morrison contributed to this report.

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