Saturday, November 29, 2008
(11-29) 17:04 PST New York (AP) --
Police are reviewing surveillance videos of a post-Thanksgiving shopper stampede that trampled a suburban Wal-Mart worker to death, but they acknowledge it may be difficult to bring criminal charges.
Nassau County police and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. said no new information was available Saturday on the employee's brutal death, which rattled shoppers even as they flocked to the Valley Stream store a day later.
"It felt a little freakish," customer Ellie Berhun, 48, told the Daily News. "Some man lost his life because a VCR was on sale? Please. It's just too sad for words."
Police said the temporary worker, Jdimytai Damour, was mowed down as about 2,000 bargain-hunters surged into the store at Friday's 5 a.m. opening, leaving a metal portion of the door frame crumpled like an accordion.
Other workers were knocked to the ground as they tried to rescue Damour, and customers simply stepped over him and kept shopping even as the store announced it was closing because of the death, police and witnesses said.
At least four other people, including a woman eight months pregnant, were taken to hospitals for observation or treatment for minor injuries. The store, about 20 miles east of Manhattan, closed for several hours but reopened Friday afternoon.
The day after Thanksgiving is known as Black Friday because it has traditionally marked the point when a throng of shoppers pushes stores into profitability for the year.
Bentonville, Ark.-based Wal-Mart said it added staffers and outside security workers and put up barricades to try to prepare for the crush. But police spokesman Detective Lt. Michael Fleming said Friday that security was inadequate for a scene he called "utter chaos."
Criminal charges are possible, but identifying anyone in the store's videos may prove difficult, Fleming said.
Damour, 34, came from a temporary agency and was doing maintenance work at the store, Wal-Mart said.
A woman reported being trampled by overeager customers at a Wal-Mart opening Friday in Farmingdale, about 15 miles east of Valley Stream, Suffolk County police said. She suffered minor injuries but finished shopping before filling the report, police said.
Items on sale at the Valley Stream Wal-Mart included a Samsung 50-inch Plasma HDTV for $798, a Bissel Compact Upright Vacuum for $28, a Samsung 10.2 megapixel digital camera for $69 and DVDs such as "The Incredible Hulk" for $9.
AP retail writers Anne D'Innocenzio and Mae Anderson contributed to this report.