A Whole Foods market in Oakland is coming under criticism after witnesses said a security guard attacked a customer trying to use an Electronic Benefits Transfer card, KNTV-TV reported.
The first witness, Zoe Marks, posted pictures online of the person she described as the victim, saying he was “slammed repeatedly against concrete pillars, put in a chokehold, restrained, and suffocated until he was thrown face down on the pavement unconscious.”
Marks also criticized the store on its Yelp page, writing, “It’s time to disarm your guards and put customers first” and repeating her description of the incident.
“Instead of medical care your staff locked him out, lying unconscious in a pool of his own blood while horrified fellow customers demanded calls to the paramedics and shouted they would NEVER shop at Whole Foods Oakland again,” she wrote. She also backed up a picture of what she said was a staff member calling for “backup” instead of medical attention for the customer. That picture can be seen below:
A second witness, identifying themselves as “Thomas T.,” also posted about the incident on the Yelp page, saying, “I prefer not to witness violence and have to step over a pool of blood to buy groceries.”
Marks also posted a picture of the man after paramedics put him on a stretcher, saying she spoke to police for more than an hour after the encounter.
SFGate reported that the man was in stable condition at a local hospital. Authorities have not issued a comment on the incident.
A company spokesperson, Beth Krauss, told the Oakland Tribune that the guard was suspended while Whole Foods conducts its own investigation. The guard was reportedly assigned to work at the store through a local company, Admiral Security Services.
“While we move swiftly to gather the facts, we want to make it clear that Whole Foods Market takes a zero tolerance approach to violence,” Krauss said.