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‘You Damaged His Spine’: Black Man Hospitalized After Store Employee Followed and Hit Him With ‘Pole’ After Accusing Him of Stealing Shirt

Police in the Atlanta suburb of DeKalb County are investigating an altercation at a local mall between a clerk at a popular clothing store and a man suspected of shoplifting. The accused man was left with injuries to his head, neck, and spine after he was struck with a metal object by the clerk, his family says, and now the mall owner is concerned.

On Sunday, July 17, Dekwan Jackson, 25, was inside the Player’s Closet, a store inside the Mall at Stonecrest, when he was accused of stealing. At a certain point, while he was in the store, an employee approached him about boosting a shirt from their display inventory, Fox 5 Atlanta reports.

Jackson reportedly denied he stole anything and exits the store. Cellphone video taken by another mall shopper shows the clerk approaching a man who is now being identified as Jackson from behind with what appears to be a metal rod or pipe in the common area of the mall and striking him in the head — leaving him immobile for seconds. The striker jogs away from the affray after the strike.

The young man eventually gets up and stumbles to the glass exit doors and is later taken to the hospital. Police said they were called that evening to a QuikTrip gas station where they found Jackson bleeding. He told them he was struck in the back of the head by an unknown man in a parking lot at South DeKalb Mall — some 12 miles from Stonecrest Mall — according to 

Officers submitted in a statement Jackson had visible injuries, prompting them to secure him with medical attention in a hospital.

The next day, Yvette Jackson, the victim’s mother called the police to offer a different version of how her son sustained his injuries, telling authorities that her son was hit by a Player’s Closet employee.

Jackson’s aunt Marquita Jackson told local station Fox 5, “He hit the ground so hard…you know how you get carpet burns? He has one and his is down to the white meat.”

“He later had to have surgery on his spine, had to have metal plates put into his head, his neck, and a rod down his spine,” she claimed.

A representative from Player’s Closet told the station they have surveillance footage of Jackson stealing and the initial confrontation between the worker and the suspect. But did not immediately address the assault.

The store contends that after the accusation, the young Black man claimed he had a gun and gestured “proactively” toward his waistline before leaving the store — suggesting in the clerk’s mind he might get shot.

Jackson’s aunt said whether he stole something or not, the assault is not justified, and that security should have been called.

“You damaged his spine…nothing in this world is that deep,” his aunt said.

Yvette Jackson, the young man’s mother, said in disbelief, “He accused him of taking a shirt … You’re not supposed to leave your store and follow him all the way around to like half of the entrance of the door to hit him in the head with a pole.”

Images show by Fox 5 Jackson in the hospital with a neck brace on and the family suggests it will be some time before he is back to normal.

Urban Retail Properties, the group that owns the Mall at Stonecrest, released a statement about the incident saying they are “extremely concerned to hear about this unfortunate incident.”

“The Mall At Stonecrest is currently working with the DeKalb County Police Department while this incident is under investigation.” 

While the DCPD is reviewing evidence surrounding the assault, it is unclear if the Jacksons or the Player’s Closet will file charges against each other.

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