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Brother speaks out on deaf theft incident

August 12, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
A controversial video shows security guards scuffling with two deaf men.On Friday, one of the men is told his side of the story exclusively to Eyewitness News. He said he is very angry at the way the security guards treated him and his brother. He claimed the guards never gave him the chance to communicate to them that he and his brother are deaf.

An incident outside the Forever 21 store on Hollywood Boulevard sparked outrage. A witness caught the scuffle between store security guards and two deaf brothers on tape.

The amateur video shows the scuffle on the Hollywood Boulevard. Two security guards can be seen, one on the ground holding a person in a chokehold.

Meanwhile a second person is running around frantically trying to stop it. That person is Pablo Rea. He is deaf and Friday he pointed out what he was doing in the video.

In a statement he said, "There was no communication at all. It was hard for me to get anything across. I was frustrated."

The video was shot outside the Forever 21 clothing store at Hollywood and Highland. The person on the ground is Rea's brother, Alejandro. It appears when the men walked out of the store the alarm went off, but they wouldn't be able to hear it, and the security guards grabbed them.

"I didn't like the way the security guards were choking my brother, that they almost killed him," said Pablo. "I was trying to get to the guards but they kept pushing me back. I was trying to get them to stop, to tell them, 'I am deaf, I am deaf.'"

The Hollywood and Highland center issued a statement:

"The handling of the recent shoplifting incident at Forever XXI was unfortunate. Hollywood & Highland Center Management nor its private security team was involved in this incident. While we await the outcome of the investigation by Forever XXI we do not condone the apparent use of excessive force."

According to the L.A. District Attorney's Office, Alejandro Rea has a history of petty theft. He pleaded guilty in a case back in 2002 and no contest for another incident in 2008. In the current case he is being charged with one count of 2nd-degree robbery and one count of petty theft with priors.

Asked if his brother had receipts when they walked out of the store, Pablo says the police took everything.

Forever 21 released a statement Friday:

"Our internal investigation has shown conclusively that the security guard approached and identified himself to the suspect after the light and sound anti-theft alarms were triggered. The suspect visually acknowledged the guard and then turned and fled the scene. According to media reports, the suspect was arrested and charged with robbery and shoplifting by the LAPD. We recognize that the security guard used excessive force, which is against our store policy and have suspended him indefinitely," wrote Kristen Strickler, Forever 21 Marketing Dept.

Alejandro Rea remained in jail Friday afternoon with bail set at $55,000. Pablo Rea said Friday he has contacted an attorney.


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