LAKELAND, Fla. (WFLA) – In July, three Lakeland Walmart employees were charged with manslaughter after they detained a man they suspected of shoplifting.
Kenneth Wisham, 64, died less than 12 hours after fighting with the employees. New audio recordings from the Lakeland Police Department reveal what the employees told detectives about the incident not long after it happened.
Former Walmart customer service manager Crucelis Nunez described Wisham as a “homeless looking, white male.” She told police he set off the store alarm as he tried to leave and that another employee tried to stop Wisham from leaving the store.
Wisham didn’t stop and Nunez and others ran after him in the parking lot. As the 64-year-old ran, his pants kept falling down and Nunez told police she “nudged him” to knock him over.
When she did, the two started fighting in the parking lot.
“The guy was fighting. He was not stopping, he wasn’t quitting,” said Nunez.
She admitted to police her actions were against store policy and she knew it.
“If they run, we’re supposed to let them go,” Nunez told detectives.
Despite this, she and other employees attempted to hold Wisham on the ground until police arrived.
“He’s fighting saying, let me go, I didn’t do anything, I didn’t do anything. I think at one point he did say I can’t breathe,” said Nunez.
Randy Tomoko worked as an asset protection employee for Walmart for 21 years and told police he was only following Wisham to identify him if police arrived in time. Tomoko told detectives that changed when he saw Wisham fighting with one of his co-workers on the ground. Tomoko told police he was only trying to hold Wisham by the wrists to protect Nunez and because he didn’t know what Wisham was holding in his pockets.
“He was swinging pretty freely at her and fighting with her and I said, well, I don’t want her to get hurt,” Tomoko told police.
Tomoko, Nunez and a third employee, Nathan Higgins face charges of manslaughter for their roles in Wisham’s death.