Teen shoplifting suspect’s arraignment postponed

Hearing for 14-year-old in viral video pushed back to July 24

By Jessica Prokop, Columbian Courts Reporter

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Editor's warning: This video contains profanity and may not be appropriate for younger viewers.

A 14-year-old alleged shoplifter — the subject of a viral cellphone video that captured her being detained by WinCo loss-prevention employees — was released to the custody of her grandmother Wednesday.

The girl had been in juvenile detention since her arrest Saturday. She was in juvenile court Wednesday morning for arraignment, but the hearing was pushed back to July 24, court records show.

Vancouver police arrested the girl on suspicion of second-degree robbery after she allegedly stole candy from the store at 905 N.E. 136th Ave., in Vancouver. However, what has ignited intense debate and criticism is how loss-prevention officers handled the situation.

Court records state that the girl was stopped by two loss-prevention officers outside the store and fought with the employees as they tried to detain her. Both reportedly sustained minor injuries, police said.

A bystander’s video of the altercation posted to Facebook on Saturday shows the loss-prevention officers detaining the girl as she tried to leave, and attempting to bring her back into the store. Several bystanders can be heard yelling at the employees about using excessive force, as they struggled with her on the ground, and not having the authority to detain the girl.

As of Wednesday afternoon, the original video posting had garnered 10 million views, more than 69,500 shares and 67,800 comments.

WinCo provided responding police officers with video of the alleged theft and fight, according to an affidavit of probable cause filed in juvenile court.

Police said that after interviewing witnesses and reviewing video footage, they determined that none of the witnesses saw loss-prevention employees assault the girl or use excessive force. Loss-prevention employees were unable to handcuff the girl because she was fighting them, police said. The girl suffered a scraped knee and elbow in the scuffle.

In Washington, most “simple” thefts — theft of property or services with a value less than $750 — are charged as third-degree theft, a gross misdemeanor.

However, the charge can be upgraded to robbery when there is use or threats of force, violence or fear of injury involved.

A statement issued by WinCo to The Columbian’s news partner KATU-TV said that the suspect’s attacks occurred before the footage shot and shared on social media. The company said it is “continuing to investigate the situation and cooperating fully with local law enforcement.”