Crime Escambia County

What happened at WalMart on Blue Angel….we want your accounts of the arrest

November 30, 2012

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 rick@inweekly.net.

Here is the arrest report: Bennett arrest 1

And the ECSO press release on the arrest: Woman_Arrested_at_Walmart

  • Fairness December 8, 2012 at 12:08 pm

    This is ridiculous. Why is this woman considered above the law? It is people like her that get people hurt at these sales and she deserves worse than she got. I don’t understand what the big civil rights violation was supposed to be. This is a good example of why we need to protect tax payers from frivolous lawsuits. Why wasn’t she worried about her baby when she started all the trouble?

  • jeeperman December 4, 2012 at 9:42 am

    So Marcus,
    ECSO snatched the TracPhone from your hand then demanded your iPhone too?
    Or are you just confused and making up a story since you were not there ?

  • Marcus December 3, 2012 at 7:46 pm

    I was there and those polices was yelling at only tha black people. They snatched a Trac phone from my hand and told me I would be in jail if I didn’t give them my iPhone

  • Teresa December 1, 2012 at 10:21 am

    Walmart should have kept the silly phones locked up until the sale started. Mrs. Bennett should have left when told. She stood there showing her A** for a while knowing she had her child with her. The sheriff needs to have a talk to his deputies about there tone and poor choice of words. Demanding a person to “shut up” is unprofessional.
    Bottom line, after reading the arrest report and watching the video it seems legit to me. What was the officer supposed to do with her? He asked her to calm down, to shut-up, and then to leave. She refused…

  • citizen December 1, 2012 at 12:06 am

    Lets see. Disorderly Conduct was met due to the volume of her voice, the scene she caused and the crowd she gathered, Trespassing after warning was there because she refused to leave after being told numerous times, resisting w/o violence was there in an obvious way when she started pulling away from the officer. Now, whether or not she was wrong in taking an item prior to it going on sale in my book really doesn’t apply. The officers were called to the area for a disturbance and she was part of that disturbance??? People, this is a good arrest. They took her to the front of the store, took the item away from her that she hadn’t paid for and asked her to leave several times, told her to leave several times and then arrested her after she refused. Black or white doesn’t matter in this case, she should have left after being told so many times. She can get what ever attorney she wants, she’ll be looking for pretrial diversion or a plea agreement. Now as scared as Wal-Mart is about civil suits, she’ll probably get what she’s looking for there.

  • Maverick November 30, 2012 at 11:09 am

    I was at the Wal-Mart on Blue Angel at about 8:30 pm. I didn’t see this incident, but it was busy.

    There were some informal lines in areas (the term lines might not be appropriate since it was more disorganized than that) and inadequate supervision. It was clear that several displays set aside for later sales had been picked over early. I don’t know why this person was singled out by the deputies.

    I suggest asking Wal-Mart to produce all of the video. There are cameras throughout the store.

  • Greg November 30, 2012 at 10:37 am

    I can tell you this… with Ben Crump “investigating” this, the media will be ablaze. He loves the camera. Frankly, not the world’s greatest lawyer but he is good at what he does and will almost certainly extract a nice settlement that will be funded by the taxpayers of Escambia County. Sure would be nice if the Sheriff’s Office (and less often the PPD) would be a little more cautious in cases where they have to know its being filmed.