'Black Friday' shopper speaks out after arrest at Walmart in Altamonte Springs

Police say woman threw merchandise, resisted officer

ALTAMONTE SPRINGS, Fla. - A "Black Friday" shopper at a Walmart in Altamonte Springs was arrested on allegations of throwing merchandise after being confronted by a police officer who prevented her from apparently cutting in the checkout line.

Samantha Chavez, 28, of Land O' Lakes, was arrested Thursday night on charges of disorderly conduct and resisting an officer without violence.

The mother of three told Local 6's Shaun Schaiyabhat the officer went too far.

"I look like a crazy, insane Black Friday shopper, which was not the case at all," said Chavez.

Fellow shopper Francisco Herrera recorded the arrest.

"I panicked. I was upset. I was scared," said Chavez. "He turned me over. He pinned me to the floor. He had his knee on my back."

According to Altamonte Springs police, Walmart loss prevention officers went to the front of the store around 10:30 p.m. after shoppers were arguing with others trying to cut in line.

Police said Chavez was spotted about 15 minutes later trying to pass the lines. She was told to get in line by an officer, and she said, "Okay," but again tried to get by, police said.

Chavez repeatedly refused to comply, according to police, who said Chavez began screaming. As police tried to escort her from the store, she threw items she apparently intended to purchase and pulled away from the officer, officials said.

Chavez said she was trying to find her sister-in-law somewhere in line. She said she had already finished her shopping and grabbed a few items to bring to her sister-in-law, who was waiting in line. Chavez said she dropped the items to prove she had no intention of cutting in line.

"I feel extremely violated. I have no issue waiting in a line," she said. "I've never been in any trouble. I just wanted to go home."

Police spokesman Rob Pelton said off-duty police officer who intervened was justified.

"Five or six times, this officer tells her she needs to go to the back of the line; there's other people becoming upset thinking that you're cutting in line," said Pelton. "People are yelling out, 'Hey, this isn't fair, do something!'"

Chavez said she thinks the cop took his Black Friday job too far.

"He grabbed me by my arm very, very strongly," said Chavez. "At that point, I did get irate. A man three times my size has me by the arm. I felt very upset by that. I'm like, 'Why are you doing this? You don't have a right to do this. I didn't do anything.'"

Police say if she was just looking for a relative she should have asked the officer for help, but didn't. Chavez said she wanted to ask for assistance, but the officer wouldn't listen.

Police said the store was so crowded Thursday night, the store was have people exit out the back of the store. So, even if Chavez wanted to leave, she likely would not have been able to do so out the front.

Walmart hired off-duty officers to help keep the peace during the busy holiday shopping event, and regardless of what Chavez did, their job was to prevent a bigger disturbance, said Pelton.

Chavez was released from the Seminole County Jail after posting $550 bond, and now faces a charge of resisting arrest without violence and a charge of disorderly conduct.

No other arrests were reported at the store.

Watch Local 6 News for more on this story.

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