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Suspected shoplifter taken down outside Home Depot

Posted at 3:36 PM, May 02, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-02 21:18:36-04

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. -- Ashley Broyles won't say whether or not she walked out of Home Depot in Midlothian Saturday without paying for everything she was carrying. But the 31-year-old Chesterfield woman said what happened to her next was uncalled for.

Broyles said she was taken to the ground by a loss prevention officer at the store.

"He said ma’am you have something in that purse that belongs to me. I picked up my purse and it was right there in the top of the cart," Broyles said. "He grabbed my purse and then he grabbed me and I might have pulled away from him."

The next thing she knew, she was on the ground.

"I remember him throwing me to the ground. I do remember that and that’s when he threw my face to the ground before that lady came to videotape the rest."

The "lady" Broyles referred to recorded video of the officer detaining Broyles - until police arrived. She shared that video -- and her story -- with WTVR CBS 6 News.

"I saw a woman walking toward the parking lot," the woman, named Sarah, said. "A man came up behind her and pulled her to the ground. She was screaming. He hit her face into the concrete."

Not knowing exactly what happened, Sarah began to question the officer.

"A Home Depot employee [said] 'He's one of us. That's what we do. She was shoplifting,'" she recalled. "I got out my camera, because what that guard was doing was way too harsh. He didn't ask the woman to stop. He didn't put his body in front of her to block her path. He just pulled her to the ground and slammed her into the concrete. Then he sat on her, pulled on her, she was screaming. It was awful."

What Sarah's video does not show is when Chesterfield Police said the suspect pushed the loss prevention officer.

"Based on what was reported to the police, the loss prevention officer was acting within the law when he detained the suspect," a Chesterfield Police spokeswoman said. "It should be noted that the suspect was charged with assaulting the loss prevention officer prior to the apprehension."

Broyles, who was also charged with petit larceny, disputed that charge.

"For him to press assault and battery charges against me, I’m laughing, that’s crazy, I never touched him," she said. "At one point, he had me pinned down like over top of me. I couldn’t even move my arm. He twisted my arm. This whole arm hurts really bad."

The case remained under investigation, according to Chesterfield Police.

"For somebody watching, they may say, well you shoplifted he was just doing his job.  What's your response?” asked WTVR CBS 6 Reporter Laura French.

"I was stunned by the way he was handling it.  They don’t shove their face in the ground and sit on top of them and twist the handcuffs,” said Broyles.  "I want to press assault and battery charges against him.  Even if I did do something wrong, he shouldn’t have done what he did," added Broyles.

"All of our security personnel are specially trained in handling the apprehension of shoplifters to reduce the safety risk to customers, our associates, and the suspected shoplifters themselves," Home Depot spokesman Stephen Holmes said. "Unfortunately, it’s very common for shoplifters who resist to endanger others or themselves, so our intention is always to protect customers and associates from what could be a dangerous situation."

Broyles has previous arrests, according to online court records, on charges of petit larceny and obtaining money by false pretense.