College Station TX April 29 2012 A Walmart employee who shot and killed an armed shoplifter after the suspect fired his gun during a scuffle has quit his job, company officials said Tuesday, four days after the incident in College Station.
Dustin Batson, a 25-year-old who worked as a loss-prevention officer, was not asked or encouraged to resign, according to Walmart spokesman Greg Rossiter.
Batson, a former U.S. Marine who served in the Middle East, couldn’t be reached for comment.
He had escorted accused shoplifter Michael Bradshaw to a private office inside the Walmart at Brothers Boulevard and F.M. 2818 just after 4 p.m. Friday when Bradshaw tried to leave, then tussled with Batson as well as at least two other Walmart employees, police said.
Two of those in the room told The Eagle last week that Bradshaw pulled a gun from the pocket of his pants and fired one shot, which hit a file cabinet as the employees wrestled with him. The pair said they took off, leaving Bradshaw and Batson.
The loss-prevention officer later told police that he was able to get the gun from Bradshaw but that Bradshaw quickly pulled out a knife, prompting Batson to turn the suspect’s gun on him.
Bradshaw, who was shot once in the mid-section, died several hours later at The Med. The Robertson County resident was 47.
The sound of gunshots sent hundreds of anxious customers out the exits, including many who rushed to the back of the store, witnesses said.
College Station officers have not revealed what type of gun or knife Bradshaw was carrying. Nor have officials made public whether security cameras captured the incident. Detectives have turned the case over to the Brazos County District Attorney’s Office. Officials there said it’s standard procedure to review such shootings to determine if charges are warranted and whether Batson acted in self-defense.
The front page of the College Station police report, which is public record, states that Batson said he shot Bradshaw out of “fear of serious bodily injury or death.”
A Walmart policy, which isn’t much different from those of many large retail chains, states that loss prevention officers — who do not carry guns and are not law enforcement officers — should apprehend shoplifters but may not use force to defend themselves, except as needed to get out of the situation.
Last week’s shooting in College Station puts Walmart’s policy of dealing with shoplifters in the spotlight.
An incident in early 2011 in Utah involved a man who was being detained by a Walmart loss-prevention officer and two other employees pulling out a gun and threatening to use it, court documents state. The suspect was disarmed by the employees and taken into custody by police, according to the documents, which outline how authorities told the employees they did a good job.
However, the following week the three were terminated.
Utah Attorney Lorraine P. Brown filed a wrongful termination lawsuit on behalf of those former employees.
“They practiced their right to self-defense,” she said. “As loss-prevention officers, those workers had an obligation to apprehend and detain shoplifters. That’s their job. They do it all day long. When, along the way as they’re doing their jobs, they interface with someone with a dangerous weapon, they have a right to act in self-defense.”
Brown declined to comment on the College Station case, saying she didn’t know the details.
She has two other lawsuits filed in Utah against Walmart. Court documents say that two employees from a different store were terminated after attempting to detain a shoplifter, who then pulled out a knife, prompting employees to hold her arms while a customer at the McDonald’s inside the store came to the rescue by plucking the knife from her hands.
The other case involves a Walmart manager who helped a fellow employee being shoved by an irate spouse, Brown said, adding that the manager physically removed the man from the store and soon after was fired.
Those cases spanned a matter of months between late 2010 and early 2011.
Attempts to reach Bradshaw’s family have been unsuccessful. A private family service will be held at a later date, according to Callaway-Jones Funeral Home and Crematory, which is handling arrangements.