WATCH: Video captured at Uptown Shopping Centre in Saanich show security guards restraining a man. This video contains strong language and may be disturbing to some viewers. Viewer discretion is advised. Video courtesy of Kristy Westendorp.
A video showing security guards restraining a man at the Uptown Shopping Centre on Wednesday has prompted outrage after it was viewed by thousands on social media.
The video, posted by Kristy Westendorp on Facebook, shows three security guards restraining a man facedown on the ground. One of the guards is on his legs, another on the man’s back and a third holding his arms. In the video the man is heard yelling “I didn’t do anything” and “why are you doing this?”
One of the security guards tells the man, “you spit in my face.” The man denies spitting on the security guard’s face.
A female witness can be heard saying “you’ve already hurt him, over some cans.” A security guard asked someone to call 911 during the incident.
The video has been shared almost 150,000 times.
“It’s awful. It’s really hard for me to watch. It was hard to be there and not walk away. But I felt that it was important,” Westendorp said.
“I was horrified. I didn’t know what to do other than make a record of it to tell them that what I thought they were doing was not OK.”
UPTOWN SECURITY ARREST
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UPTOWN SECURITY ARREST
Saanich police spokesman Sgt. Jereme Leslie confirmed officers were called to Uptown around 5:15 p.m. in relation to the incident.
“We’re also in possession of the video. The matter is under investigation and, as part of the investigation, we’re attempting to determine exactly what occurred prior to this video starting,” Leslie said.
Uptown general manager Kristy Lowes said the man had been legally banned from the site and has a history of committing crimes at Uptown over the last four years.
“This is an isolated incident. We pride ourselves in being a friendly, welcoming environment. We’re working with the Saanich Police Department to rectify the situation and work in the best interest of our community,” Lowes said.
Victoria criminal defence lawyer Michael Mulligan said watching the video may be unsettling, as the public doesn’t usually deal with physical violence or use of force, but force can be used if lawful.
“If you are a store security guard, and you are told this man over here is violent, he’s assaulted somebody at the mall previously, he’s legally prohibited from being here, he’s in breach of that order, you would be legally permitted to go and arrest him. And then to use force to detain him to await the arrival of the police,” Mulligan said.
Seth Fruson, president and CEO of Guardteck Security Corp, released a statement on Thursday, apologizing to those who were upset by the video.
“We do know that there was much more to the situation than what is shown in the video. The person detained has a history of violent action in the mall, including assault, theft, damage to property and mischief,” the statement read.
“He has been legally banned from the premises. When he was approached by our staff, he immediately became agitated and assaulted one of our officers. The ongoing safety of customers and our staff is always a top priority – so he was detained until police arrived. Although things escalated, incidents like this are very rare and we work extremely hard to avoid these unfortunate circumstances. Our company is built upon training and customer service. We will review this incident and take any action necessary to improve our systems and training.”