Lawsuit filed against Dick's Sporting Goods, loss prevention officer

Jul. 3—The mother of a man who was assaulted by a Dick's Sporting Goods loss-prevention employee last summer has filed a lawsuit in Lucas County Common Pleas Court against the company and its employee.

Jennifer Buckenmeyer, of Swanton, has requested a judgment in excess of $25,000 for battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress, vicarious liability, negligence, and punitive damages on behalf of the estate of her son, Aaron Buckenmeyer, who according to a spokesman for the Buckenmeyers' lawyers died under separate circumstances in December.

Video of the July 2, 2020 physical struggle between Mr. Buckenmeyer, 36, and security agent Carl Stahl, 51, at the Dick's store in Franklin Park Mall was widely shared on social media last year.

Summonses have been sent to Mr. Stahl and the company, and they will have the opportunity to respond to the lawsuit.

According to a Toledo police report, Mr. Buckenmeyer grabbed several small food items from a display near the sporting-goods store's cash registers and placed them in a blue Aeropostale bag when Mr. Stahl approached him.

The lawsuit, assigned to Judge Gary Cook, states Mr. Stahl approached in "a threatening manner" and, without provocation, grabbed Mr. Buckenmeyer by the neck and slammed him to the floor.

"[Mr.] Stahl placed Aaron in a chokehold and pinned him against the floor, punching him and continuing to use a chokehold even as Aaron, an asthmatic who plainly sounded out of breath, called out multiple times that he could not breathe," the lawsuit states.

Mr. Buckenmeyer was physically restrained and assaulted for approximately five minutes. Mr. Stahl continued shouting at him, punching him, and picked him up and slammed him to the floor again, the video showed.

The video also depicted several onlookers calling for the altercation to be broken up and reported, with one onlooker stating, "He has asthma," and another saying, "He's turning purple."

Meanwhile, store employees stood by and watched the assault.

Mr. Buckenmeyer was taken afterward to ProMedica Toledo Hospital, where he was treated for head, face, and neck injuries.

Mr. Stahl was later fired but was not criminally charged. Mr. Buckenmeyer was never charged with theft.

The lawsuit claims Dick's failed to reasonably train Mr. Stahl in lawful loss-prevention tactics and also failed to adequately investigate his background — which it says includes a history of violence — before hiring him.

"We are deeply disturbed, embarrassed, and disgusted by this incident, and we apologize," a Dick's spokesman said after the incident. "Violence of any kind is completely unacceptable and goes against everything we stand for. The safety of our customers and employees is our top priority. The behavior of our employee was reprehensible, and he has been terminated."

First Published July 2, 2021, 3:40pm