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Deaf brothers prepared to file law suit

August 19, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
It was a disturbing scene caught on tape, as store security officers subdued a deaf man while his deaf brother, Pablo Rea, struggled to get their attention. Pablo said Thursday he's ready to sue the store over what happened.Pablo said he and his brother are very angry at the way they were treated by security at Forever 21 on Hollywood Boulevard, and the Greater Los Angeles Agency on Deafness said it is obvious that the security guard was ignorant on how to communicate with people who are hard of hearing.

In a video that has been seen by almost 600,000 people on YouTube, two security guards are seen, and one is on the ground holding Alejandro Rea in a chokehold.

Forever 21 said he was stopped for shoplifting and that he tried to leave the scene.

The person seen running around frantically in the video is Pablo, Alejandro's brother, who is also deaf. He said he was trying to communicate with the guards, but they didn't seem to be interested. Pablo said the guard continued to choke Alejandro to the point where he was turning blue.

"What I saw was an attack, and I didn't like it," Pablo said through an interpreter during a news conference. "There was no communication. I was shocked. I thought the security, they would know they would have a notepad or something, or maybe take them down and wait a few minutes to get an interpreter on site ... it just looked like they tackled him like an animal."

According to the L.A. District Attorney's Office, Alejandro 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 second-degree robbery and one count of petty theft with priors. He is currently still in jail.

"Does being a suspect of shoplifting give security the right to choke you? And the answer is no," said attorney John Henrichs.

"No because it's not fair, no because it's not right, no because it's against the law."

According to Forever 21, the security guard has been suspended indefinitely, saying his actions were against company policy.

Larry Meyere, an executive vice president of Forever 21, issues a statement Thursday.

"Forever 21 has turned video evidence over tot he LAPD showing the suspect, Mr. Alejandro Rea, shoplitfing," the statement said. "The Company does not condone shoplifting of any kind, regardless of who commits that crime. We want to work hand in hand with GLAD to provide our staff with appropriate training on interacting with the hearing impaired."

An attorney for the brothers has asked to meet with Forever 21 to try to settle this out of court, but if Forever 21 does not do that, the brothers say they are ready to file a lawsuit.


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