San Diego mother suing Walmart for millions after son dies following altercation with store security

SAN DIEGO - A San Diego woman is suing Walmart for millions of dollars after she says they killed her son.

Only 10News has obtained police dash cam video that shows her son being held face-down on the pavement in the blazing heat in June 2012.

As police rolled up on scene just outside a Walmart store in Covina, they came up on a Walmart security guard dressed in a blue polo shirt. Police later learned the security guard had been kneeling on top of a man face-down on 135-degree asphalt for eight and a half minutes.

"Hey, can you hear me? Sit up," said a Covina police officer is heard saying on the video.

As the security guard got up and walked away, officers tried to communicate with 41-year-old Jose Marcos Picazo.

What they did not realize is that he was already dead.

"I'm very depressed," said Emma Mercado, Picazo’s mother. "I'm very sick, so I just want justice."

According to witness accounts, Picazo was screaming, "I'm dying, I'm dying" while he was pinned to the ground, hands cuffed behind his back, for some of that time by two Walmart employees.

"I want these guys in jail," said Mercado. "They're killers."

Police say the Walmart security guards had been watching Picazo inside the store and followed him out with $56.92 worth of body wash, socks, underwear and jeans he had not paid for.

His family admits what he did was wrong but says he should not have been killed for it.

"These people stepped over the bounds," said King Aminpour, Mercado's attorney. "They went over and beyond what's acceptable, what's reasonable and they've devastated this family."

In a detailed Covina police report obtained by 10News, a detective wrote that, "Due to the fact Picazo had died after struggling with Wal-Mart employees, documented under Covina P.D. Case No. 12-3391, I transported Velazquez to the Covina Police Department to be interviewed."

During the interview that detective wrote that Velazquez told him because he was working alone, he recruited help from a Walmart store employee to apprehend Picazo.

Police say Walmart surveillance video shows Velazquez  "...confront S-Picazo, struggle with him, and tackle him to the parking lot..."

Following the altercation that resulted in Picazo's death, a total of four Walmart employees were taken in for questioning by Covina police but later released.

After Picazo's autopsy, the Los Angeles County coroner found "restraint maneuvers" and "... an elevated but nonlethal level of alcohol" to be the main contributing factors in Picazo's death.

Deputy Medical Examiner Lisa Scheinin, M.D. also concluded that obesity, a severe electrolyte imbalance and dehydration could have also played a role in Picazo's death and that "rhabdomyolysis" may have set in, which "can be related to dehydration or excessive struggling."

Scheinin went on to state that "the role of dehydration on a hot day (pavement temperature was 135F) could be significant."

However, Scheinin stated that "because of the multiplicity of factors that may play a role in this complicated case, the mode of death is undetermined."

In a statement, Walmart told 10News:

"We offer our condolences to Mr. Picazo's family for their loss. The safety and well-being of our customers and associates is always a top priority, and we take it seriously any time an incident is reported in one of our stores. Unfortunately, Mr. Picazo's death appears to have been the result of a number of factors. The associate primarily involved is no longer with the company."

Mediation for this case has been set for March.

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