Three employees who restrained a suspected shoplifter in the Polk, Florida Walmart earlier this year are being charged with manslaughter. An autopsy of the man, Kenneth E. Wisham, 64, of Lakeland shows that he died of mechanical asphyxiation. The autopsy also shows that they broke 15 of his ribs. The charge is a second degree felony and opens up themselves and Walmart to a wrongful death suit. Walmart has a policy which states that employees are not to try to chase or apprehend a suspect.
The suspects in the case are Lakeland residents Nathan Allen Higgins, 35, a support manager; and Crucelis Nunez, 23, a customer service manager. Also charged is Randall Eugene Tomko, 58, of Winter Haven, a loss prevention worker.
The three were arrested and jailed Thursday and on Friday bail was set at a first appearance hearing before County Judge Robert Fegers.
Higgins, whose bail was set at $2,500, was expected to be released from South County Jail in Frostproof late Friday according to his lawyer, James “Rusty” Franklin. He said his client played a minor part in apprehending Wisham, something the judge took into consideration.
“He (Higgins)was commanded by his supervisor to go intervene. All he did was grab the guy’s ankles. It’s a tragedy, no question about it.”
Nunez’s bail was set at $20,000 and she is being held at the county jail in Bartow. Tomko’s bail was set at $30,000 and he is being held in the Frostproof jail.