-- DeKalb County police and the medical examiner's office are investigating how a man accused of stealing from a local department store ended up dead. The incident happened early Sunday morning outside a Walmart in Lithonia.
According to the DeKalb County police report, the store manager suspected a man of stealing two DVD players from the Walmart on Fairington Road at around 1:30 a.m. Authorities say the store security guard and two other Walmart employees followed the alleged thief, described as a middle-aged man, into the store parking lot.
According to the police report, the three workers confronted the suspect and when things got physical, they managed to subdue him only after a security guard placed a choke hold on the suspect.
Responding police officers reported all three workers were on top of the man when police arrived. An officer handcuffed the unresponsive man and noticed he was bleeding from the nose and mouth. Paramedics transported the man to DeKalb Medical where he was pronounced dead.
The department store chain describes the incident as a "sad situation" and says it's working with DeKalb County police to determine what happened.
In a statement, company spokesperson Dianna Gee says "our associates are trained that the safety of our customers and our associates is our first priority. No amount of merchandise is worth someone's life...Associates are trained to disengage from situations that would put themselves or others at risk."
Officials with Walmart say they are conducting their own internal investigation into the incident. They say the security officer will no longer work for them, and the Walmart associates allegedly involved have been suspended with pay.
Sources tell FOX 5 that the police officer who placed the man in handcuffs has also been placed on administrative leave while the investigation is ongoing.
No names have been released in connection with the incident. Authorities are awaiting for autopsy results to determine the cause of death.