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NHPD releases body cam footage of viral Walmart arrest, says use of force was ‘appropriate’

New Haven

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — A viral video was circulating on social media Thursday showing part of an arrest of a man who reportedly tried to steal a cart full of merchandise from a Walmart in New Haven.

Police released body camera footage of the incident late Thursday night, saying it showed the shoplifting suspect, later identified as 29-year-old Richard Smith Jr., resisting arrest repeatedly.

The video showed the officer chasing Smith around the store before pinning him to the ground. The struggle then went on for more than 30 seconds once officers got Smith on the ground, where he was maced, before police backup arrived.

Police said Smith was trying to leave with a shopping cart full of air conditioners, a grill and a grill cover that he didn’t pay for.

Richard Smith Jr. mug shot – Photo: New Haven Police Department

“During the incident, the man falsely identified himself as a Walmart employee when he is not and he claimed to have tried to make a purchase when he had not,” Chief of Police, Otoniel Reyes said in a statement.

After his arrest, police said they found heroin and crack bagged for sale on Smith. He was charged with assault on a police officer, interfering with a police officer, fifth-degree larceny, three counts of possession of a controlled substance and possession of a controlled substance with intent to sell.

“The officers did an excellent job and used the amount of force necessary to overcome the resistance of the man who refused to be arrested,” Chief Reyes said in a statement.

The officer hurt his knee during the struggle. He is going to be okay.

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