January 17, 2005

WM Manager Confronts Reporter in Parking Lot

Lee Oliver has a very short video (link) of a Wal-Mart manager allegedly committing battery on him:

Port Saint Lucie
(Florida)-- January 8th 2005. While responding to an EMS call at the Wal-Mart Superstore on Highway US 1 in Port St. Lucie, Florida, photo journalist Lee Oliver was allegedly assaulted by the stores co-manager known (at this time) only as Phillip. What began as investigating a story of a collapsed customer (later, facts proved that it was merely an employee who felt ill.) Mr. Oliver entered the store to request permission for an on-camera interview but was denied and asked to leave the store. Mr. Oliver left immediately without incident. After leaving the store Mr. Oliver began shooting what is known as background footage of the ambulance in the parking lot. Whilst filming the ambulance he was approached by the co-manager known as Phillip. Phillip asked Mr. Oliver to turn off the camera then grabbed the lens of the video camera. Mr. Oliver asked why Phillip was was so adamant regarding the cessation of filming, but received no answer. The co-manager briefly released the camera, however when Mr. Oliver identified the co-manager by name and title, Phillip responded by quickly grabbing the top of the cameras lens-hood and forcefully pushed it forward into Mr. Olivers' eye. This action caused bruising to Mr. Olivers' right eye and caused damage to the video camera.
IMHO, Philip's actions were wrong, but not "assault." Clearly, the man was foolish, had no right to stop Mr. Oliver from filming in the parking lot, and should have not touched his equipment. But personally, if that's "assault," I've been assaulted worse over 100 times by people bumping into me accidentally. The police were right; touching the camera forcefully was (allegedly) battery (link):

Battery is the intentional touching or striking of a victim against his or her will causing the victim harm.
Battery is a first degree misdemeanor in Florida (link) punishable with up to a year in prison, although I think if convicted the man would receive only a fine.

Also, I'd like to see the claim Mr. Oliver has made with the insurance company, and whether or not that claim has been reviewed, because from the video it doesn't appear that the camera was actually damaged (it's hard to tell).

In addition, how do the inactions of WM's insurance company imply that "Wal-Mart either does not take alleged attacks by managers seriously, or that there are so many complaints that it takes quite a while to get back to all of the alleged victims." ?

As for WM, it MUST do better job than this apparently lackadaisical response, especially when dealing with indy media.

Posted by Kevin on January, 17 2005 at 01:01 PM