An employee at a Best Buy store in Roseville says he was fired for chasing and tackling a suspect who was fleeing law enforcement.
The incident happened Jan. 11 as Placer County Sheriff’s deputies located 35-year-old Timothy Trujillo of Reno, who was wanted for multiple burglaries.
Surveillance video of the incident posted to social media appears to show at least one officer struggling with Trujillo, who then tries to run away. A Best Buy employee, wearing a yellow jacket, chases him down and tackles him near a curb in the store’s parking lot.
Tyler, who asked that his last name not be used in order to limit social media attention that may affect his career, told The Bee on Monday that he knew he was breaking a company policy, but did not expect the punishment to be termination.
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“I stand by it. I think it was the right thing,” he said. “My supervisors didn’t even see it happen. ... I told them I was probably going to get in some sort of trouble for it.”
Tyler worked in asset protection, and had been with Best Buy for just a few months. He was near the store’s front curb after agreeing to help a customer who was returning a 65-inch TV.
As Trujillo walked by, deputies in three unmarked cars left their vehicles to apprehend the suspect, Tyler said.
Tyler decided to chase Trujillo himself after the suspect punched an officer and attempted to flee. When he gave chase, Trujillo was about 20 feet away from the nearest deputy.
“Sheriffs were in tactical gear with plate carrier (vests) and ARs (assault rifles),” he said. “I figured it was safer to help tackle him there and end it than to have it drawn out in a parking lot.”
Tyler said he does not regret his decision to break company policy, which was set at the corporate level and not by local management. He said Best Buy’s policy is that employees cannot chase potential shoplifters, due to safety concerns.
A representative with Best Buy’s corporate office did not return The Bee’s request for comment Monday.
Tyler was contacted by Best Buy corporate management about a week after the incident before finding out last Friday that he’d been fired. He said he accepted the punishment and left the store.
“I don’t disagree with the policy, but I think it should be more of a case-by-case policy than more a blanket policy,” he said. “That’s why I only thought I’d get in a little bit of trouble. But I understand the point of the policy.”
He added that he thought he might have received a bit more leniency because he was chasing someone wanted by law enforcement rather than a shoplifter at the store.
Tyler, 26, said he plans to return to a school for security guards in April to prepare for a career in either contracting or law enforcement. He spent 7½ years in the Army prior to taking the job at Best Buy.
In a Sunday post to Facebook, Placer County Deputy Sheriff’s Association acknowledged the incident, saying Trujillo punched a deputy in the face as he resisted arrest.
The Sheriff’s Association recommended citizens keep a safe distance from ongoing law enforcement activity, but acknowledged that Tyler helped a deputy who had been “violently assaulted.”
The Sheriff’s Association social media post noted that the Placer County Sheriff’s Office is hiring and encouraged Tyler to apply.
“In this case the citizen made a decision to come to the aid of the Deputy that had just been violently assaulted and for that we are extremely grateful!” the post said. “There is no doubt that Placer County is a safer place because of him.”