What to Know
- A homeless man who was caught stealing food at a Brooklyn supermarket in April died after an altercation with staff who confronted him
- Months later, the medical examiner's office ruled his death a homicide; it wasn't clear if officials would seek to file immediate charges
- At the time of his death, a friend of the man who died questioned why the staff took matters into their own hands
The Brooklyn district attorney has found insufficient evidence of criminal conduct on the part of Stop & Shop employees in the death of a suspected shoplifter at a local store last year -- a case the medical examiner had ruled a homicide.
Ralph Nimmons, a 51-year-old who had hypertension, suffered a "sudden cardiac death" following the altercation with "restraint and prone positioning" at the Flatbush Avenue supermarket April 14, the medical examiner's office had said.
Police who were called to the supermarket that morning said store employees reported that a homeless man, about 50 years old, had been shoplifting and was caught. They got into a "struggle" with the man and he blacked out.
Cops said the employees then flagged down a police officer, and emergency services were called. Nimmons was pronounced dead at a hospital.
Nimmons' families and their attorney had argued the employees were criminally liable, claiming they failed to heed the man's cries that he had a heart condition and couldn't breathe, according to the Daily News.
Prosecutors apparently found inconclusive evidence to that claim.
At the time of his death, Nimmons' friend questioned why the staff took matters into their own hands. "They didn’t have to kill him," friend Joanie Smith said. "He was stealing food, he's homeless. He does this all the time."
Smith said she was there when the man she knew as "Star" died. She said the employees at the Flatbush Avenue Stop & Shop were used to him stealing from the store, but on this day, she said they put him "in a chokehold."
In a new statement Tuesday, Stop & Shop said it had been informed by the district attorney's office that the investigation was closed.
"Stop & Shop cooperated fully with law enforcement’s thorough investigation of the unfortunate event that took place at our Flatbush store last year," spokeswoman Stefanie Shuman said. "We respect law enforcement’s work and the district attorney’s decision."