A white security guard employed by Valor Security and assigned to the Westlake Mall in Seattle recently pepper sprayed Raymond Wilford, an African-American man who was walking through the mall area to meet a friend.
The security guard, who has not been identified, told the Seattle police that Wilford "took an aggressive step towards him he deployed his pepper spray" last Saturday.
However, according to photo-journalist Alex Garland and witness Isra Ayesh the security guard's version of the story is false.
Garland took pictures of a shirtless man threatening Wilford who was walking by a pro-Palestine protest at the mall. Garland told The Stranger that he overheard the shirtless man call Wilford a "sand n----."
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"The guy that was the aggressor was closer to the security guard. The other individual, the person of color, was further away, but he was the one who got pepper sprayed," Garland told MyNorthwest.com.
While Wilford did get in a defensive position against the shirtless man, he told The Stranger, "I never hit him and he never hit me."
"The security guard was like, 'Stop,'" added Wilford. "The white guy was still yelling and walking towards the security guard. I was like, 'Why are you pointing your mace at me? He’s the one being aggressive.' And then he pepper sprayed me."
After pepper spraying Wilford, the mall security guard grabbed him by the arm and dragged him through the mall area and into a nearby building (video below). The security guard ignored numerous bystanders who told him that he had the wrong man.
"I think he’s real bad at analyzing the situation," Wilford told The Stranger. "He said he got a call for a white guy for his shirt off. He should have paid attention to that person. I don’t want to say it’s a race thing or anything, but his attention was straight on me. He never looked at him. After he sprayed me, he lied to me and said he sprayed both of us."
A Seattle police officer defended the security guard against the witnesses, but later took statements from Wilford and the security guard who were both released.
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Wilford, whose eyes were burning, claims that the security guard later followed him into a bathroom and actually questioned him for using a disabled stall.
"I’ve been treated like that all my life, so it kinda brushes off," Wilford told The Stranger. "I’m from the South, I’m from New Orleans. I’ve seen the worst of it. People here seem to be more secretive about their not liking black people, or their racism. I’m so used to it I don’t know what’s wrong and what’s right half the time."
Scott Born, a Valor Security spokesman, told KING 5, "Please know these actions are never done without warning and careful consideration. It is always our goal to try to resolve all situations as peacefully as possible."
However, another security guard reportedly pepper sprayed a woman who is filing a complaint.