Commerce City, CO - A Walmart employee was fired for doing his job well at a store in Colorado.
The former asset protection associate said he was fired from his job at Walmart on Dahlia Street four days after he was sucker-punched on Nov. 6 by a shoplifter who had tried to break into a cash register, according to KDVR.
Ramon, who requested that his last name and hometown be kept confidential because he fears retaliation from the many previous shoplifters he has stopped, said the suspect "flat out told me 'I'm schizophrenic, I don't know what I'm going to do.'"
"When someone says something like that, you have to take those threats seriously," Ramon said.
The incident occurred just five days after a triple homicide at the Thornton Walmart located just eight miles away.
Police said the 21-year-old suspect, Juan Izalb, entered the Walmart, and picked up a hammer and a screwdriver. He then walked to the sporting goods area, placed the hammer in the register, and began trying to pry it open.
Walmart employees called Ramon, and the surveillance video showed Ramon walking toward Izalbe. His left hand was holding his phone to his ear while he talked to police, and his right hand was raised to get Izalbe to stop.
The video showed Ramon being assaulted, which made him drop his phone on the floor. He tackled Izalbe as co-workers and shoppers watched.
Ramon received stitches for his left eye and missed three days of work due to his injuries from Izalbe's assault. He said he was fired when he returned to work on Nov. 10.
Walmart officials would not release any information on Ramon's termination except to say that it involved "gross misconduct."
Ramon said that supervisors told him that he could have handled the situation better.
"They flat out told me I could have avoided the situation,” he said.
Ramon said he reacted in a split second and that tackling Izalbe was appropriate in the situation.
In his termination letter, Walmart said, "Ramon could have prevented the incident if he had not approached the suspect with an aggressive manner, tone and identified himself properly."
Ramon said Walmart specifically trained him to use an open palm to stop suspects from fleeing.
He did what he was trained to do on Nov. 6, and he got punched for it.
"My mentality automatically went into defense mode. You know, what can I do to prevent this guy from you know hurting anybody else?” Ramon said.
Walmart's policy for apprehending suspects, AP-09, says "When a suspect is violent or hostile, in an apprehension situation, let the suspect flee out of the store and call law enforcement."
But Ramon said that the policy also says, "Authorized associates may use reasonable force to physically limit or control the movements of a suspect."
"I felt like he created an unsafe environment for me. And at that point of time, my safety was involved. At that point in time, not only that, the safety of other people. I felt like it would create a more dangerous environment to let him go than to restrain him,” he said.
The suspect told police that he had gone to Walmart to buy his brother a video game, decided to break into the cash register, and then had a change of heart once an employee saw what he was doing.
Izalbe said that Ramon approached him aggressively, but that he was wrong.
"I'll take the charge for assaulting him, I know I shouldn't have done that,” Izalbe said.
He also told police that he did not officially break into the register.
Izalbe has been charged with possession of burglary tools, attempt to commit burglary, and third-degree assault. He has also been charged with a burglary that occurred on Nov. 1 at a different Walmart.
Do you think that Walmart has any excuse for firing Ramon? We'd like to hear from you. Please let us know in the comments.