Cab driver Jerry Bell, Jr. assaulted by armed guard at E. Warren CVS store
Detroit police have store videotape, tell Bell they are seeking charges
Incident follows killing of CVS customer in Dallas by guard in July, 2017
By Diane Bukowski
January 6, 2018
DETROIT — Jerry T. Bell, Jr. says police investigators have told him they want to bring criminal charges against a gun-toting guard from the CVS store on E. Warren at Mack in Detroit, near the border of Grosse Pointe, based on the store’s videotape of an incident involving the guard and Bell.
Bell is a 43-yr. old cab driver, father and grandfather who lives in Warren. He is also a candidate for the Warren City Council in upcoming elections. He has been challenging what he says is the racist gerrymandering of Warren’s council districts.
Bell says the guard assaulted him Friday, Dec. 29 as he was leaving the store to get cash from his car to pay for prescriptions from Harper Hospital. He had been treated there overnight for a dangerous spider bite infection, which had caused his foot as well as his entire body to swell. He told VOD that doctors at Harper immediately put him on intravenous antibiotics and said he could have died from the infection.
“But then I was afraid I was going to die at the CVS afterwards,” Bell said.
“I stopped at that CVS to get my prescriptions filled on my way home to Warren,” he explained. “I told the pharmacist I had to go back to my car to get more money to pay for the scripts. On my way to the front door, a CVS guard put his hands on my chest, grabbed my jacket, and told me, ‘I can’t let you leave with that.’”
Bell was wearing torn-up gym shoes to fit his swollen foot and was still somewhat disheveled from being in the hospital.
Bell says the guard had a gun on his hip, and started to reach for it.
“All I could think of was what happened when George Zimmerman confronted Trayvon Martin,” Bell said. “I feared for my life. He was endangering not only me, but customers and clerks in the store. I kept thinking, ‘What should I do?’”
Bell said he shook out his coat and his shirt to show the guard that he had no stolen items. He said he left, but went back inside to file a complaint with the manager. He said the manager talked to the guard, then told Bell, “There’s no reason to get all hostile, it was just a misunderstanding.”
Bell said he went straight to the Fifth Precinct to file a police report. Fearing for his life, he did not go back to the store, but had a friend pick up his prescriptions the next day. A lawyer accompanied his friend, but the assistant manager for the day, named “Jim,” refused to discuss the matter with them and appeared hostile.
Ironically, Bell was shot multiple times several years ago in his cab by a customer, and was severely disabled for several months. He only survived by speeding to the nearest police headquarters.
VOD contacted CVS corporate headquarters by email to ask the following questions:
- Since when have CVS guards been allowed to carry guns? Are they in fact allowed to do so?
- What is CVS policy for the behavior of security guards?
- What action, if any, has been taken against this security guard by CVS? Has he been disciplined or fired?
- Mr. Bell tells us that a CVS representative called him to apologize. Does CVS consider this sufficient compensation for what appears to be a life-threatening incident?
- What actions does CVS expect to take with its security staff to avoid such incidents in the future?
Gary Serby, director of corporation communications for CVS, ignored most of the questions in a terse reply.
“CVS Pharmacy is aware of this alleged incident and we are cooperating fully with the police in their investigation,” Serby responded. “Our initial findings do not support the customer’s allegations, however the security guard, who is employed by an independent security agency, has been suspended from working at any CVS Pharmacy stores until the conclusion of the investigation.”
The incident comes on the heels of the killing of an alleged shoplifter in Dallas by another CVS “loss prevention officer,” Julio Ruvalcaba, July 9, 2017. Ruvalcaba chased the shoplifter down the freeway in his car. When the man’s car crashed, Ruvalcaba got out and shot him to death. Ruvalcaba was charged with murder. See http://www.nydailynews.com/news/crime/cvs-security-staffer-chases-fatally-shooting-shoplifter-article-1.3320358/
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