On Thanksgiving night, a local woman, Annette Bennett, was arrested at Wal-Mart and charged with disorderly conduct, resisting an officer without violence and trespassing after a warning. The arrest stemmed from Bennett allegedly taking a cell phone from a display before the item was scheduled to go on sale.
Ellison Bennett of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Movement for Change and the Parks & Crump law firm out of Tallahassee, that did some work on the Trayvon Martin case, are involved.
The Escambia County Sheriff’s Office is reviewing the arrest.
We have the store video of the arrest, the official arrest report and what Ms. Bennett has told the Pensacola News Journal and the Pensacola Voice.
Of course, the stories conflict.
Bennett: She told the Pensacola Voice that on Thanksgiving night she went to the WalMart on Blue Angel to shop. A WalMart customer service representative had told her that she could pull desired merchandise (TracFones) and wait until the proper check-out time to pay for them. The phones went on sale at 10 p.m. She got the electronics section early and put a phone in cart because the quantities were low. Another customer started yelling—“Stop, she stole my cell phone”—and followed her around the store yelling.
PNJ: The daily newspaper reported that Bennett told them that Wal-Mart employee indicated to another customer that he didn’t care if cellphones were removed from a display case before the designated sale time of 10 p.m.
Deputy Mann: He wrote in his report that he found two females fighting over a cell phone. He was told Bennett had taken three TracFones out of a sales display case that was not to opened until 10 p.m. When confronted by other patrons waiting in line for the sale to begin, she began cussing and screaming at the people.
Bennett: She said that she and her male accuser were escorted to the front of the store. After listening to her story, another deputy instructed her to leave the store. When she questioned why, she said that her arms were grabbed behind her back. She was cuffed but held on to the shopping cart that had her one-year-old child. She was slammed against a security gate and thrown on the floor. She was said she fought back because she didn’t want to leave her baby unattended.
PNJ: According to published articles in PNJ, Bennett said she didn’t raise her voice until the deputy took the phone from her.
Mann: He wrote that he escorted Bennett to front of the store an explained to her that the TracFones weren’t on sale until 10 p.m. Only one phone was found. Bennett began screaming and causing a scene. She refused to calm down and got louder and louder. He warned her that if she didn’t calm down that he would have to escort her from the store. She said that the deputy couldn’t make her leave. Finally he told her that she was under arrest and needed to put her hands behind her back. Instead she grabbed the shopping cart with both hands. She struggled until the deputies had to forcibly remove her from the store.
The IN wants to hear from customers that were in the WalMart when this incident happened. Please email them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here is the arrest report: Bennett arrest 1
And the ECSO press release on the arrest: Woman_Arrested_at_Walmart