Witness Questions Response to Shoplifter's Death Outside South Coast Plaza Saks Fifth Avenue

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Costa Mesa police say a shoplifting suspect suffered some kind of medical condition while being detained outside Saks Fifth Avenue by South Coast Plaza security on May 18 and was later pronounced died at a local hospital.

That's not quite how at least one witness saw it.

Here's the official version of what happened before 4 p.m. that Wednesday:

Mall security stopped two men in the parking lot suspected of stealing several pairs of designer sunglasses from Saks. One man darted off while the other was detained by mall security. Police were called around 4 p.m., and several pairs of sunglasses were recovered. As the suspect was being held, he suffered some kind of medical condition. He was taken to a hospital where he was pronounced dead. George Marques, 44, of Placentia, suffered cardiac arrest, according to the county coroner.

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Jim Cosper does not dispute much of that account, but he claims there is more to the story that he fears is conveniently being left out.

Cosper is a driver with California Yellow Cab, and he felt it was important to point out that his company does promotions with OC Weekly. He says he watched the events unfold in the South Coast Plaza parking lot. This is what he says he saw from a taxi stand about 40 feet away:

A male African-American security guard chased a white shoplifter out of Saks. The guard tackled the suspect, who dropped store items as his head slammed into the pavement. Though the man was not moving, he was handcuffed behind his back and turned over onto his back. "When I saw him, he was already deceased," Cosper said. "I saw no movement in his abdomen and chest. There was a red spot on his forehead."

The cabbie could not understand why no one tried to resuscitate the suspect or request a doctor over the mall's public address system. He estimated it was 10 minutes before paramedics and fire personnel arrived to tend to the man. "If you're not breathing for 10 minutes, you're gone," Cosper said.

He also watched the second suspect, who he described as a Hispanic man, jump into another cab with two child passengers in tow. That taxi whizzed past Cosper's but was quickly stopped by police. "That never works out," Cosper said of trying to flee a crime scene in a cab.

Though he did not know Marques, Cosper suspects the dead man's family may have grounds for legal action against the mall and city.

Costa Mesa Police Lt. Mark Manley tells the Weekly his department has no other comment on the case other than the official statement described above.

The Orange County District Attorney's office is investigating, as is routine with in-custody deaths.

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9 comments
Guest
Guest

I bet he never steals again!!

exguard99
exguard99

a security guards job is to observe and report for this very reason, most have no idea what to do if something goes wrong!!!

Janm236
Janm236

California law states that while making an arrest only the amount of force necessary to affect the arrest may be used. The guy was running away from the security guard so it seems reasonable to me that he was tackled by the guard. Handcuffing is the safe and reasonable thing to do also. The only issue I see here may be a civil one if the guard failed to render any kind of aid to the man.  

Isaisjose
Isaisjose

I also was a witness when this iccident happened,and the loss prevention black guy was chocking the suspect.

Rodrioggarcia
Rodrioggarcia

Honey, California law is intended for California employees....ex:city cop, county sheriffs, etc. The security is employed by a private company, not the same expectations......u can defenetely sue their ass for excessive force.....

Datth3rdrail
Datth3rdrail

im the victims son! please i need your help please isaisjose....my email is dath3rdrail@gmail.com email me so i can give you my phone number

Dath3rdrail
Dath3rdrail

and where did you get that information? regardless of a checkered past. he was a good father to me, and taught me NOT to go down the path he did. he's dead!! are you serious??? how could you possibly try to justify a man losing his life??? wow, not only am i disgusted with that comment, but i am very, very hurt. hopefully that was your goal in replying to my comment, i am now 22 years old, and don't have a father. thanks!

p.s. i truly hope writing that made you feel like a "better"person, but with all due respect you can go fuck yourself.

Freexbl123
Freexbl123

More interesting facts regarding this case include that the article fails to mention this guy had several warrants for numerous charges in several states. Also fails to mention that months prior to this incident the subject was arrested for a similar crime at another retailer where he fought with loss prevention officers and mall security as well as fled from local police

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