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Arizona police vow probe into bloody arrest of grandfather at Walmart

By Greg Botelho, CNN
updated 10:56 PM 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
  • Jerald Newman, 54, is out of jail after being arrested at an Arizona Walmart, his wife says
  • A witness says a police officer upended the man, leaving him bloodied on the floor
  • Newman was later charged with resisting arrest and shoplifting
  • A police official says an investigation will be conducted into the officer's actions

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

(CNN) -- An Arizona police department will conduct an investigation into the bloody arrest of a 54-year-old grandfather during a Black Friday sale at a Walmart, an assistant police chief said Saturday.

Jerald Newman, 54, was released Saturday from a Maricopa County jail, his wife, Pamela, told CNN. He has been charged with resisting arrest and shoplifting.

"(He is) as good as expected ... but he is emotionally and mentally a wreck," she said.

Newman was among a throng of shoppers crammed into a Buckeye, Arizona, Walmart soon after it opened late the night of Thanksgiving.

"They were just letting people in; there was nowhere to walk," said his daughter, Berneta Sanchez, who was also in the store. "Teenagers and adults were fighting for these games, taking them away from little kids and away from my father."

The suspect's 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 the crowd shopping for video games set up in the Walmart's grocery section. He said Newman "was not resisting" arrest as he was led away from the crowd by a police officer.

That 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.

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 try 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 Newman was knocked out for about 10 minutes, all the while gushing blood and handcuffed.

Buckeye Assistant Police Chief Larry Hall said Saturday that Newman's case is "basically in the court's hands right now, as far as the resisting arrest and shoplifting goes."

The department will conduct an investigation to assess whether the actions of the police officer involved in the arrest were "within reason," based on "our policy and also the law." He said that probe would happen soon, adding it was "days away."

"We may have an independent agency conduct the inquiry, just to show transparency," Hall said.

As to the criminal charges, Todd Nolan -- the attorney representing Newman -- said his office will conduct discovery procedures Monday with police "to gather evidence proving my client is innocent."

The suspect himself plans to speak to the media later next week, his lawyer said.

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."

Sanchez described her father as "a really nice man," saying 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.

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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