Harold Burrowes was tased and wrongly arrested after purchasing thousands of dollars worth of Walmart gift cards, and now, he’s suing the company for $5 million.
Back in September of 2011, Burrowes, the owner of a wrecker service, purchased over $3,000 in Walmart gift cards to be used to buy diesel fuel. Burrowes says that he had been doing that instead of issuing company credit cards so his tow truck drivers could purchase fuel.
When Burrowes went to purchase the gift cards, the cashier informed him that he wasn’t allowed to buy them using another gift card.
"I explained to her, ‘I'm not using a gift card to purchase gift cards; I have my American Express,'" said Burrowes to Fox 4 News.
Eventually, a supervisor came over and told Burrowes the same thing as the cashier. It then became obvious to him that they believed he was using a stolen credit card.
"I believe they thought all of the evidence points to the fact he was, they thought that Harold was using a stolen credit card," said Ben Martin, Burrowes' attorney.
Burrowes kept trying to explain to the supervisor his reason for buying the gift cards, but at a certain point, as shown in the surveillance video, a police officer was called over. That’s when things got out of hand.
Burrowes finally purchased the gift cards using his personal credit card, and as he attempted to walk away, the officer grabbed him.
"He grabbed me on my shoulder," explained Burrowes. "I said, ‘What is this for?' He said, ‘You're going to jail.' I say, ‘For what?' ‘For trespassing.' I said, ‘How am I going to be trespassing? I know I don't commit any crime,' and he walk in front of me, use a four-letter word and pulled his taser and hit me in my chest."
Burrowes was then arrested and charged with both disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. Off-Duty Services, the company that the officer worked for, said in a statement they believe that the officer did the right thing.
"Off-Duty believes that this incident occurred because of Mr. Burrowes' conduct,” said a company attorney in the statement. “After he made the decision to arrest, Mr. Burrowes became aggressive toward the officer, resulting in the officer having to tase Mr. Burrowes to control the situation.”
After the district attorney determined there was a lack of evidence to prove that Burrowes should have been arrested in the first place, the resisting arrest charge was dropped.
Walmart released a statement, saying, “The safety and well-being of our customers and associates is always a top priority. Officer Sciculuna was employed by an independent contractor, Off-Duty Services. We expect our independent contractors to remain professional in dealing with customers at all times, and we regret that the situation with Mr. Burrowes escalated."
Now, Burrowes is seeking $5 million from the company for being tasered and wrongly arrested.